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Evanston voters will be heading to the polls next month to narrow the field of five mayoral candidates. Before the vote, what questions would you like to have the candidates answer?

If you’ve got questions about issues important to you … or about the candidates’ qualifications for the job, post them in a comment to this story.

We’ll see if we can get at least some of those questions answered between now and election day, Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The candidates are Gary Gaspard, Steve Hagerty, Brian Miller, Jeff Smith and Mark Tendam.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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20 Comments

  1. For the candidates
    I’d like to hear how they intend to cope with the on-going pension issue, the D-65 referendum mess and they’re ideas for turning off the spigot of guns coming into Chicagoland that eventually make their way to Evanston.

    1. Thoughts on the relationship

      Thoughts on the relationship with NU and how to maintain and grow the positive cooperative partnership that Mayor Tisdahl built.

    1. Misty, please be more specific
      Misty, can you please specify which tax burdens are inequitable?
      And when you say “target”, are you suggesting that current taxes are specifically intended to
      negatively impact low & moderate income families?

      As a candidate for Alderman, I think it’s important for people to better understand your question.

      Thank you

      TP

      1. Thomas, I appreciate you asking
        Regarding your 2nd question, my answer is yes. However, if I was to speculate, it would be that our current tax structure is more symptomatic of an effort to lift the burden (to varying degrees) from wealthier individuals, who after all, were and are the architects of its current framework. But regardless of intention, the consequences of its regressive structure are the same—a heavier tax burden then falls on middle- and low-income earners.

        Property taxes only tax an individual’s real property, not personal property. Because most of the wealth of low- and mid-income households tends to be tied into the home, those families pay much higher tax rates on their overall property than do higher-income households, which typically hold a higher percentage of their wealth in personal property financial assets like stocks, bonds and valuable tangible property.

        This means when we keep focusing on raising property taxes when seeking additional revenue, we’re passing on the bulk of that responsibility to those low- and middle-class families, especially on the “house-rich, income poor” households. Renters are also affected, as an average of 75% of property tax increases are passed onto the tenant.

        (It’s worth mentioning, however, that I don’t think personal property taxes or wealth taxes on intangible property are the solution, for a variety of reasons that I will further explain and link to, along with my recommendations.)

        Because sales taxes tax everyone at the same rate, regardless of income, and because low-income families spend more on average for basic goods, they are also getting hit disproportionately hard here. The city can’t do much to directly affect sales tax other than to appeal to state reforms. I only mention it here because sales taxes are the second largest municipal revenue source in Evanston , following property taxes.

        I am not speculating, however, that the city of Evanston is alone responsible for these inequities, as much of the taxing power is not in the our hands. But there are a number of promising ways to move toward more progressive revenue streams, through both reforming existing municipal structures, and by advocating for reforms at the state and federal levels.

  2. Housing costs?
    I want to know how they intend on keeping housing costs down.

    Evanston is quickly becoming unaffordable.

  3. Do you take the Purple Line?
    I would ask the candidates when was the last time they took the L? When was the last time that they were standing on the Howard platform at 10pm on a cold, rainy Tuesday?

    I am not looking for any particular bona fides of being a transit die-hard, but I want to know that the mayor of Evanston understands the common experience of many daily Purple line riders in Evanston. Not because this is any particular hardship nor because I demand around the clock service to the Loop running every 5 minutes. I want anyone who is an advocate for our community to understand what the Purple Line means for so many people. And not just the Purple Line, but the Pace and CTA bus routes, the UP North, bike lanes throughout town, the Divvy system, and the natural walkability of Evanston – all provide value to residents and are assets for our community to build upon. Evanston is unique. Evanston is accessible. Evanston is my home because of the uniqueness and the accessibility.

    1. Public Transit in Evanston
      I feel the city needs to designate someone as a competent, experienced liason between our community and the public transit entities serving our community (CTA, PACE, Metra-UPN) to improve the stations and service. The Metra station waiting rooms in Evanston at Central, Davis and Main are dark, extremely filthy are rarely cleaned. (This is not the case in Wilmette at all.) The Purple Line stations are with the exception of Davis Street not handicapped accessible. I have seen seniors practically crawling up the stairs at both Main Street and Central. The Central Purple Line stop, across from Evanston Hospital and next to a large complex of medical offices, does not have an elevator either. There has been and continues to be a great deal of development of very expensive rental buildings (E2, Chicago Main, Amli and the buildings going up on Maple) but no attention whatsoever has been paid to the necessary infrastructure to support all of this development. It’s just incompetent to me and reflects how out of touch our city government has been with most of us.

    2. I believe in public transit
      Great question, Kyle. Since I work mainly in Evanston, and have so for many years, and have been within biking distance of my office for most of the last 25, I don’t ride the Purple as often as I used to, but probably have taken about 5,000 rides on the line in my life, going back to when it was the “Evanston Express,” and I rode a couple weeks ago. I hear what you’re saying about cold and rainy; my wife long ago declared that atop the Howard platform is, in winter, the coldest place in Chicago (say, about 1 am on the way home after a concert, with no train in sight) 🙂 It also was a loss when the 201N bus service was curtailed.

      You’re absolutely correct about the importance of transit to Evanston. The folks who sited Northwestern here didn’t make that final decision until they got assurances that the Chicago & Milwaukee Railway (which became the C&NW) would extend its line up here. Yet the CTA in the past couple decades has instituted a lot of service cutbacks combined with rate hikes, which produces a negative spiral, since ridership drops off when other modes become more attractive. So now, for instance, there is no bus service to NW Evanston on Sunday, an area of 12,000+ residents.

      I participated in Evanston’s MultiModal Transportation planning process and on the transportation committee of the Climate Change Action Plan citizen task force. I’ve contributed to the Active Transportation Alliance and attended numerous CTA sessions on Red, Purple, and Yellow line proposed projects. I have written on federal road and rail funding bills, attended high-speed rail conferences, repeatedly urged the CTA to reconsider its decision to eliminate A and B trains, and all the stops added to the south end of the Purple line, all of which make the L commute to the Loop much longer. By any measure, a transit and multimodal transportation advocate.

      Here’s the problem: transit riders, like bicyclists and pedestrians, or even drivers, aren’t an organized constituency and most politicians don’t feel any pressure from transit riders, so transportation issues are often ignored. In Evanston, municipal voting demographics, like primary voting, skews away from the transit ridership, which tends to be younger, not as affluent, and more diverse. In 2010 I tried to change this, specifically appealing to transit riders and bikers as a natural voting bloc. I created one of the only Transportation issues pages of anyone running for the legislature, anywhere (you rarely see that). I paid for newspaper insert flyers on transportation and transit issues, and took out ad space in Purple Line cars themselves. Most political pros would say it was money poorly spent 😐

      Anyway, for your benefit, here’s a link to where I stood then, and my views are pretty much the same today:
      http://electjeffsmith.org/docs/Transit.pdf

      On the present Council, Don Wilson is an avid biker, but that is unusual among politicians. Already this season I’ve heard one candidate making fun of bike lanes, to score political points. Thanks for bringing up the issue, and I urge you to stay involved and hold candidates’ feet to the fire on it.

  4. Mark Tendam
    My question would be where is Mark Tendam on the issues? He doesn’t appear to have much if any visibility as a candidate with the election so soon. It seems all the other candidates have publicly answered detailed questions posed by the Evanston Roundtable and most of the candidates have a campaign website and social media presence. I’m a bit surprised Mr. Tendam has been so absent yet wants to be Mayor. I would urge him to start to get his message out in a public way if he wants to be taken seriously.

    1. Wants to be taken seriously? Mark Tendam is committed to us!!!!!
      Mark Tendam does have a Website it’s marktendam.net how about you email him at info@marktendam.net. He is also the only candidate with a fully translated website in spanish, which suprised me. He also has a Facebook page and signs out in my ward. Mark Tendam knocked on my door here in the 5th ward 2 weeks ago. I don’t know what you mean about presence? Other candidates just throw their money at us, they send mail and pay other people from Chicago to knock on our doors. I talked to another person representing another candidate a few weeks back. He was paied, from Chicago and didn’t even know our city. How can we accept this? This is shameful!!!! How can we allow this to happen when so many Evanston residents need jobs here? Why don’t they hire Evanston residences to knock on our doors if they care about our city and our vote? They also hire out of Evanston to survey us on the phones instead of actually talking to us!! Mark Tendam has been walking our streets and talking to our people in person. He has my families vote!

  5. Leaf stickers
    Why don’t you get rid of the $1.75 stickers for each bag of leaves the city picks up? We got along without them for about 20 years. Residents of Wilmette and Evanston-Skokie get free leaf pickup. Most of the leaves in our yards fall from trees in the parkway which belongs to the city and not the homeowner. People have to run around buying the stickers, and the merchants often run out. Additionally, merchants get no markup on the stickers, and actually lose money on them when purchasers use credit cards. To add insult to injury, the city has started demanding payment on delivery from the merchants, which amounts to $875 per package of 500. I see landscapers blowing the leaves out in the street, and calls to the police do not result in any consequences. The candidate who is for ending this abuse will get my vote.

    1. Leaves in street.

      We are the only North Shore suburb,that has to bag and pay separately to have are fall leaves taken away.They stopped years ago because they had a early freeze that froze the leaves to the street,If you keep up with the cleaning you will not have this problem.Bring back leaves permitted into the street…

  6. Simple question
    I want to know why each candidate would like to become the next Mayor of Evanston ?

    1. mayoral positions
      I’d like to know if any candidate opposes the school referendum. Property taxes in Evanston are too high and the school districts are the lion share. And ever since the disposable bag ordinance passed, I shop at marianos in Skokie though I’m only two blocks from jewel/whole foods (which NOT surprisingly is CLOSING). If Evanston wants to be a “walking” city, the sidewalks have to be clear year round. Between Chicago/main and dempster there’s barely room for two people. BTW…quite a few residents shop in . Skokie/Lincolnwood. What’s your plan to bring viable businesses besides tiny shops to Evanston? Why would a major employer like Washington National was, move here?

  7. Substance
    What on earth do any of you actually stand for/care about? This is by far the least substantive election I can recall. Seems like a bunch of egotistical men looking to win prom king for the popularity points. You all need to try harder.

    1. 2nd Amendment
      I would like to know where the candidates stand on 2nd Amendment issues – specifically Evanston ordinances restricting firearms possession and businesses. Are they aware of the court decision on Chicago gun range ban?

  8. Half-Empty Downtown
    I’d ask the candidates why they think so many commercial spaces in the downtown area are empty—some for years—and what they SPECIFICALLY plan to do to attract businesses that can stay in those spaces. As a follow-up, I’d ask whether they think we should construct more buildings until we fill the ones we already have.

  9. Gun Control

    I want to know what our candidates are doing personally to reduce gun related crime in Evanston. Have you signed a witness slip to oppose SB50? This is a bill that would legalize silencers and is currently being considered in our state Senate. As a resident of the 8th ward we have seen many more gun related incidents than is acceptable. I want to know what our candidates plan to do to reduce gun related crime in Evanston. Thank you.

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