As more vaccines become accessible and businesses reopen, we’re all eager to build back better from the devastating impact of COVID-19. But 3rd Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne warns that Evanston must recover from more than just the pandemic.
“COVID exposed critical inequalities and exacerbated Evanston’s housing crisis,” said Wynne, adding: “We must do more than rebuild economically. We’re still reeling from four years of political tumult, which has eroded public trust in government and bruised the bonds of national unity.”
“We need a plan for living together again,” proposes Wynne, “one that prioritizes cooperation over competition. We must lift up civility that leans in toward our shared values.” Just days before the April elections, her bold vision for a more livable Evanston is gaining momentum among community, government and business leaders.
“In 2009 Melissa worked closely with my administration to obtain federal stimulus money, which averted a housing crisis for dozens of Evanston families,” said former Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.
In 2021, Evanston may receive as much as $45 million in federal stimulus funds. “I have no doubt Melissa’s extensive budgeting experience and her broad recovery plan will ensure the most impactful and equitable distribution of these funds,” added Delores Holmes, former 5th Ward alderman.
Don Baker, a 40-year veteran of working with Evanston youth, said, “I’ve known Melissa to be a strong advocate for the most vulnerable in our community,” citing Wynne’s bold proposal for a new Evanston recovery fund targeted at workforce development, innovative entrepreneurship and growth and retention of women and minority-owned businesses.
According to Wynne, a greener Evanston supports a more prosperous future, where safe, walkable/bikeable streets and smart, pedestrian-friendly development improve access to local businesses and amenities. “Let’s reduce our usage footprint by relocating and consolidating City buildings downtown, which will also push consumer traffic toward local restaurants and shops.”
An environmental lawyer, Wynne is keen on reducing vehicle emissions and cleaning up toxic air which increases susceptibility to respiratory diseases. “I applaud Melissa’s advocacy for more bike lanes and her leadership bringing Divvy bikes to Evanston. Throughout her tenure, she’s fought to preserve a natural, accessible lakefront for public enjoyment,” recalls Tisdahl.
Alderman Wynne facilitated the opening of local small businesses such as Few Spirits, Union/Space, Frio Gelato and Homestead Meats, creating one of Evanston’s most vibrant business districts.
“Melissa has been really supportive of our Main-Dempster business district. She’s helped me connect with the community and navigate the government to achieve my business goals,” said Jaime Leonardi, owner of Stumble & Relish located on Chicago Avenue. Wynne responded by highlighting an important tenet of her livability plan, “I have sought to align business and government goals by establishing a shared vision for the communities we serve. Vibrant small business districts are critical to livable communities.”