Opdycke

Stuart Opdycke, the vice-chairman of Evanston’s Plan Commission, has become the first candidate to take out nominating petitions for next spring’s mayoral election.

Opdycke, who’s 65 and a life-long resident of Evanston, says that after a 35-year career as a lawyer, he’s ready to have job where he could walk to work.

“I’ve had a little taste of municipal governance being on the Plan Commission, Opdycke says, “and I rather enjoy it.”

Opdycke, who lives at 1327 Hinman Ave., says he believes dealing with the municipal budget crisis will be the biggest issue facing the city’s next mayor and that he hopes to develop strategies for dealing with that in conversations with past and present city leaders over the next few weeks.

In terms of city infrastructure, “fundamentally I think the town is in pretty good shape,” Opdycke said.

“Given the economy, I think the window for new development is pretty much closed, certainly for the next year,” he said. “I know people still have signs on their front yards about the tower, but I think it’s safe to take those in now.”

He said the Plan Commission is “just one meeting away” from wrapping up work on a new downtown plan.

“If the City Council follows the commission’s recommendations, no building will be able to exceed 15 stories as a base height, and even with allowances it would max out at something like 27 stories,” he said.

Opdycke said that as mayor he’d like to work to improve relations with Northwestern University.

“They’re a great asset to the community, and I think we ought to work hard to improve that relationship” although he also suggests that the question of getting non-profits to contribute more to the cost of city services ought to be looked at. “It’s a real legitimate question,” he said.

“I love this town,” Opdycke said, noting that he attended Washington Elementary School, Nichols Middle School and Evanston Township High School and has raised three sons here. “I’ve been on the school board, I know the streets and neighborhoods I think as well as anyone. I know the character and culture of the community.”

He said incumbent Mayor Lorraine Morton, who’s indicated she doesn’t plan to seek re-election, “has done a wonderful job and served with so much grace. We’ve been very lucky to have had her at the helm.”

City Clerk Rodney Greene said this afternoon that no other candidates have yet taken out petitions to run for mayor.

Opdycke and other sources have said they understand Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, is planning to run

Opdycke said he has also heard that Jeanne Lindwall, a 1st Ward resident, planning consultant and former city employee, is considering entering the race.

Tisdahl and Lindwall could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

Greene says that if more than two candidates file petitions for mayor by the Dec. 15 deadline, a primary election for the mayor’s job will be held on Feb. 24. The general election will be held April 7.

He said petition forms for mayoral candidates and candidates for alderman, city clerk, township supervisor and township assessor have been available at the clerk’s office since Monday.

Mayoral candidates, he said, can start circulating their petitions immediately, but aldermanic candidates can’t start collecting signatures until Oct. 28.

So far, Greene said, the only aldermanic candidate who has picked up petitions is Cheryl Wollin, the incumbent in the 1st ward. The aldermanic candidates have until Jan. 26 to turn in their petitions.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. Let me ask Mr Opdycke and Cheryl Wollin their postion on ——
    I would like to know Mr Opdycke position on taking Medical benefits — I will be asking all candidates if they are going to take the excessive Medical benefits.

    If he believes the budget crisis is the biggest issue, does he believe that limiting excessive compensation for elected officials is important?

    We already know Cheryl Wollin position since it is likely she is taking the benefits. Ofcourse she can vote to eliminate the benefits for the next council.

    The taxpayers do not need to fund over $100,000 in benefits for part-time employees.

  2. Council benefits
    Junad,

    I think you are being too harsh on the Council benefits. They may be so-called “part time” positions, but for Council members who take the job seriously, it is more than a full time position. It is not just the Council meetings, but the various subcommittees and the tons of paperwork. Meetings with their ward residents, requests, etc.

    The compensation is substantially less than what they could make if they were employed in business or industry.

    I know some of them personally, and I think it is a job few really would want. Certainly not for the monetary compensation. Ann Rainey, in the 8th ward, does a yeoman job representing her ward and the city at large. The time she spends in court fighting bad landlords, neighborhood problems and countless meetings is in no way compensated by the “benefits” or “pay”. What she is paid is a pittance to what she could get in business.

    Not that all members of the Council deserve praise. For some it is a venue to spout off, sometimes endlessly, and to pursue silly causes and photo ops. That’s life, and that is why we have elections.

    1. Reply – Council members compensation
      Vito – $10,000 a year is not compensation for the job.

      “The compensation is substantially less than what they could make if they were employed in business or industry.”

      Given some of them are lawyers they are billing people in their practices – $100/hr -$200/hr –
      so their council salaries are not their income source.

      If they did not want to be on the council they could put in more hours in their practices – thus the $10,000 is not making up for their compensation.

      Today I was at a branch library – the librian is part-time she does not get to paid $37 a month for full family medical benefits. She gets no medical benefits since no part time employee but alderperson get this benefit.

      I was taking to another city employee he mentioned they cut some of the hours of another part time employee. who it is I will not state. A manager trying to pretend he was saving us buck.

      Vito – lets focus on the real waste here.

      IF these council members don’t want to serve they do not have to run.

      I do not believe many of these council members are putting 40 hours a week in the job – 20 hours yes some weeks- bottom line they are not serving for the compensation – if they were they would not be doing the job.

      Vito – I think we need to make cuts at the top not at the bottom – many of these council members are quite well off – they are in the top few percent Obama wants to tax – so I am not being too harsh when I say they do not need medical beneifts. We don’t ask council members when the run to view their tax forms this is not the presidential election but I think some citizens would be quite suprise if they knew alittle more about the income of their elected officials.

      1. branch libraries
        Junad Rizki wrote:
        Today I was at a branch library – the librian is part-time she does not get to paid $37 a month for full family medical benefits. She gets no medical benefits since no part time employee but alderperson get this benefit.

        I find it interesting that you bring up the branch libraries. I have repeatedly said that the city needs to cut wasteful programs, such as the branch libraries and the elm trees. You have dismissed these suggestions as small change in the city’s budget – but you are getting excited over $100,000 for health benefits. I think that getting rid of the branch libraries and elm trees, and generating property tax from the Dawes House and Kendall lot (with IHOP) would generate more than enough to cover benefits for all of the aldermen.

        1. Who see you at the council monday night
          Who you should come to the council monday -night and speak in favor of their getting a raise and health benefits. You might be the only one.

          1. can’t make it this Monday
            Junad wrote:
            Who see you at the council monday night.
            Who you should come to the council monday -night and speak in favor of their getting a raise and health benefits. You might be the only one.

            Sorry, Junad, I can’t make it on Monday night. I don’t want to miss Dancing with the Stars.

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