Just 10 people collected nearly 85 percent of the petition signatures gathered to place the proposed Evanston Voter Initiative measure on the March election ballot.

The Evanston Electoral Board is scheduled to hear an objection to the initiative proposal when it meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Room G300 at the Civic Center.

A review of the petition sheets by Evanston Now shows that about 930 signatures — or nearly the entire margin by which the petition drive exceeded the roughly 2,800 minimum required — were collected by non-Evanston residents. Most prominent among them was former Governor Pat Quinn, who lives in Chicago and gathered 664 signatures.

Three other Chicagoans and one resident of Brookfield added a total of 266 signatures.

Among Evanston residents, Bob Crews. 71, of 2615 Poplar Ave., had the most success, gathering 706 petition signatures. Crews has spoken occasionally at City Council meetings in favor of independence for the library board and against time limits on public comment speakers.

Allie Harned, 45, of 1515 Greenwood St., the leader of the petition drive, followed with 527 signatures. Harned, a social worker in District 65 schools, was an organizer of the 2018 advisory referendum urging preservation of the Harley Clarke mansion.

Diane Thodos, of 2668 Orrington Ave., collected 408 signatures. An artist, Thodos has pushed for preservation of the Harley Clarke mansion and once urged the city to pull its funds from major banks.

Dan Coyne, 62, of 827 Monroe St., collected 357 signatures. A District 65 social worker, Coyne is also a member of the Ridgeville Park District board, filed an ethics complaint against an alderman who criticized him and provides live video streams of many community meetings.

Elliot Zachin, of 715 Asbury Ave., collected 185 signatures. Zachin has been an activist with Reclaim Evanston and has supported increasing the minimum wage and opposed contracting out victim services programs to the YWCA.

Other residents who collected 50 or more signatures for the petition drive included Rachel Wham, Darlene Cannon, Ray Friedman, Harris Miller, Elizabeth Stare, William Eason and Mike Vasilko.

Another 14 people collected smaller numbers of signatures.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I’m curious if these are the

    I’m curious if these are the same residents who canvassed to obtain the Harley Clarke referendum signatures.  Can you tell, if in addition to Ms. Harned, there is any overlap?

  2. Did this violate any rules?

    Is the fact that only 10 people collected 85 percent of the signatures in violation of any rules or requirements on referenda? How do these numbers compare to the number of petitioners for those wanting to run for aldermen or school board? What is the point of highlighting this fact? Of course people who start an initiative like this will be the main drivers pushing this out. Also, please clarify–were there 15 people in all collecting signatures? I am puzzled as to why this is newsworthy.

    1. Rules?

      Dear “Differing Opinion,”

      Did the story say any rules were violated? No.

      Petition requirements to run for alderman are far lower — in the vicinity of 100 signatures, I’m told. Don’t have info handy on petition requirements for school board.

      The point of the story is that it sheds additional light on an important public question. It also may help other people get a sense of the organizing effort that would be required to get an issue on the ballot.

      In all, 29 people submitted at least one sheet of petition signatures.

      — Bill

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *