Evanston’s five candidates for mayor offered hints Wednesday night about the actions they would be most likely to support early on in their term if elected to succeed the current mayor.

The five appeared at a forum sponsored by the city’s two Rotary clubs and moderated by NBC Chicago news anchor Christian Farr in the auditorium of the Rotary International  headquarters in downtown Evanston.

Steve  Hagerty, 48, noting that Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl had improved relations with the administration of Northwestern University, said he would like to encourage more involvement of the students in helping the city solve some of its problems.

At the same time, he expressed skepticism that “a good neighbor does not take more properties off the tax rolls.”


While rejecting the idea of giving financial help to businesses to locate in the city, he said that Evanston should provide an environment, through beautification and public art, that would encourage more shoppers and visitors to come to Evanston and shop at local retailers.  A performing arts center downtown would help do that as well, he said.

Mark Tendam, 62, who is currently completing his second term as alderman from northwest Evanston’s Sixth Ward, said that housing and homelessness are issues that most often keep him awake at night.

“The services are here,” he said, “but getting people to take advantage of those services is something else.”

Brian Miller, 37, who represents the Ninth Ward, advocates using the sale of water to neighboring suburbs as a means of financing growth.

Miller said he would like to help fight violence in the community by expanding the mayor’s summer youth job program to reach those young people who are not getting the summer jobs. More outreach workers and mental health counselors would help as well, he said.

Miller also advocates better “police accountability,” and vows to see that “all of our citizens are policed properly.”

Gary Gaspard, 54, said he would establish a “Living Mayor Advisory Board,” consisting of former Evanston mayors who have a deep understanding of community issues.

On dealing with violence, Gaspard warned that “we cannot fight violence with violence. We need to fight violence with workforce development.”

Jeff Smith, 60, said he would introduce a “lakefront protection ordinance” in his first 30 days in office.

On the issue of violence, Smith vowed to build “a culture of peace,” which he said begins at the top.

Because there are five candidates on the ballot for mayor, there will be a primary on Feb. 28 to whittle the field down to the top two. However, if one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, he will be declared the winner.

The general election, for mayor, city clerk, and nine aldermen, as well as for school board members, is scheduled for April 4.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Downtown Performing Arts Center

    Promises to upgrade the arts are always welcome, but Evanston has an excellent performation arts center already, with full venues and happy customers.  At Northwestern University, members of our community can attend an extensive number of excellent and varied arts programming nearly ever day of the year for very affordable prices.

    People who go to classical music concerts, opera, musical theatre, jazz ensembles, dance, recitals and band concerts already know this. Our family attends some kind of arts event at NU nearly every month, sometimes more often, seeing world class preformers at deeply discounts.

    Any mayor would have a hard time convincing arts patrons that there is a needs to build new facilities for the kinds of artistic performances that are already present or very close by.

    Candace Hill

  2. A preforming arts center for

    A preforming arts center for the community is not the same as a preforming arts center at Northwestern for Northwestern Students and Northwestern’s idea of the arts. We need a preforming arts center where our children can feel welcomed at like the Robert Crown Center.  A place that is accessible to all and welcomes all performers. We need a place that is cautious of the social economic differences of our city, a place where children, youth and adults can perform and their talent can be noticed. We need a place that knows and understands the different cultures in our community and welcomes all ideas and inputs from its community. Convincing our community of the need for a place that unites us, makes us dream, laugh and encourages the arts will not be so hard. 

    1. How many “arts” programs and facilities ?

      It seems there are always more groups/people who want an arts program/building in their neighborhood or for their favorite form of ‘art.’

      I apprciate good art but most of what we get is poor quality and only serves to train those who think they will “make it big” [hint they won’t].  Children need arts in their school programs but after 8th grade, the spending is probably only for those who think they are ‘gifted’ and think they will end up on broadway.

      I’m sure it would be hard to get it on the ballot but we really need to get a vote on how much money we can afford and want for the arts and then only money from that pool can be used for the programs and buildings.


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