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State takes the gender out of ‘alders’

State offers one new title, while City Council had authorized three different ones.

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Members of Evanston’s City Council, who’ve been having trouble getting used to the new gender neutral titles they’ve adopted for each other, may find new state legislation adds another wrinkle to the process.

SB0825, which is now awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature, changes the statutory title “alderman” to “alderperson” and the plural form from “aldermen” to “alderpersons.”

After rejecting the idea of switching to gender neutral titles a decade ago, the City Council this spring adopted an ordinance directing city staff to use “Alderperson,” “City Council Member” or “Council Member,” instead of “Alderman” in addressing them.

At Council meetings ever since, the aldermen themselves have struggled to adopt the new terms, often starting to address each other as “Alder…” before catching themselves to say “Council member” instead.

And “Council member” definitely seems to have been more popular among the alders themselves than “alderperson” so far.

Whether adoption of the new state law will lead them to coalesce around the “alderperson” title remains to be seen.

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