About 150 people turned out this evening at the Hilton Garden Inn to help Evanston businessman Steve Hagerty kick off his campaign for mayor.
Those in attendance included two former mayors -- Jay Lytle and Lorraine Morton -- and Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, as well as former 7th Ward Alderman Jane Grover.
Hagerty, who moved to Evanston in 2001 so his wife could pursue a graduate degree at Northwestern University, launched his emergency management consulting firm here just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks.
It's since grown to have over 150 employees, and Hagerty says he now has "a terrific management team" to run day-to-day operations so he has the time to run for mayor.
Business owner and Hagerty contributor Joe Flanagan of Acquirent at the campaign event.
In a more than 30 minute speech to the crowd, Hagerty recounted his childhood in Massachusetts, where he said he learned to be an entreprenuer selling eggs and milk from his parents' farm and delivering the local newspaper.
"Every child and teenager should have the opportunity to work," he said, praising efforts by retiring Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to create more summer jobs for young people in Evanston.
After earning a masters degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, Hagerty says he applied and was rejected for jobs at 75 government agencies, before finally landing a position with the Price Waterhouse consulting firm -- based largely, he suggested, on an interviewer who was impressed with his entrepreneurial summer job building lofts for student dorm rooms at Syracuse.
Hagerty talking to supporters before his speech.
Hagerty said he's lived and worked in many places around the country and said few communities can compare to Evanston as a desirable place.
"People here really care and there's a tremendous amount of diversity that adds to the richness of life," he said.
"We have an amazing lakefront, and residents long ago decided not to develop the lakefront -- the right decision so everbody can enjoy it." he added.
"And we have a really good, well-run government."
"We have our challenges," Hagerty said, "but we have the resources, talent, passion and knowledgeable people who care and want to work on these issues."
He identified affordable housing and controlling property taxes as key issues.
Checking in for the event.
"Raising property taxes is directly correlated with decreasing the socioeconomic diversity of a community, he said, and the city needs to decide how to best spend affordable housing dollars, now that the inclusionary housing ordinance is creating some revenue for that fund.
He said the city's recreation programs need more investment, and alluding to his chairmanship of the mayor's Harley Clarke advisory committee, he said the city needs to decide whether to spend money on "an old dilapidated property on the lake" or on rebuilding the Robert Crown Center, "a center that serves everybody."
Campaign finance reports filed with state election officials this week show Hagerty far in front of other candidates in fundraising for the mayoral race.
He's raised over $34,000 and loaned his campaign nearly $32,000 of his own money while spending nearly $25,000 on the race so far, leaving him with more than $42,000 on hand.
Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, last week converted a committee he'd used in his race for Democratic Party committeeman for use in the mayoral race and showed contributions of $7,490 for the third quarter with expenditures of less than $1,000 and $10,000 on hand.
Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, showed no fundraising activity for the third quarter and a debt of nearly $3,000 left over from his last race for City Councl.
Former Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard, who only announced plans to enter the race a few days ago, has yet to file any campaign finance reports.