Citizens to cast their vote for mayor next Tuesday

Sarah Frieman, News Editor

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On Feb. 28, Evanston residents can vote for one of the five mayoral candidates in the primary election: Steve Hagerty, Brian Miller, Gary Gaspard, Mark Tendam and Jeffrey Smith, who all filed to run last November and December. Some key issues that have been addressed in the election so far are police regulation, gun violence and affordability. If one of the candidates receives more than 50 percent of votes, they will win the race, without another runoff in April. The mayor-elect will replace Elizabeth Tisdahl, who has been in office since 2009.           

Steve Hagerty: Hagerty has traveled around the world helping the government with federal aid after natural disasters. In 2001, he founded Hagerty consulting, which has provided significant aid in disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Throughout his campaign, he has been focusing on property taxes, making Evanston an affordable place for everyone to live in, reducing youth violence and using the Cradle to Career mindset, which works to provide youth with equitable opportunities. If elected, he hopes to use all of the resources Evanston offers, integrate all aspects of the community and make sure that the city’s values remain intact. Hagerty also attended and spoke at the student walk-out Jan. 24.

“When hate and inequality is starting to become normalized, we need to double down on empathy, value, and kindness in our own city,” Hagerty said. “Evanston can progress if it has a leader that can find a good balance of issues and that has an understanding of the community.”

Brian Miller: Miller was born and raised in Evanston and has lived here for almost 30 years. As a student, he wrote for the Evanstonian. He serves as Chief of Staff to Cook County Commissioner, Larry Suffredin and as 9th ward alderman. As alderman, he has worked on many issues in the community and has experience with state and local government duties. His main concern is police accountability, but also is focused on gun violence, environment and improving parks and public facilities. Miller also hopes to reexamine the relationship between Northwestern and Evanston, and work to make it mutually beneficial. If elected, he hopes to bring the community together and create effective solutions to any problems that the city faces.

“I wanted to run because the community has been having the same discussions about the same issues for a long time,” Miller said. “Evanston has the resources, expertise and ability to solve these problems and set an agenda for the nation.”

Gary Gaspard: Gaspard is originally from Haiti and moved to Evanston in 1982. Although he didn’t have the correct high school qualifications for college, he read and taught himself GED, and was accepted into Northeastern Illinois University. He currently teaches social work research and social welfare policy at Northwestern and works with high school students at Youth Outreach Services. Throughout his career, he has been focused on serving his fellow community members and keeping students engaged. During his campaign, he has concentrated on issues such as gun violence, community relations with the police, and keeping Evanston diverse. If elected, he hopes to lead and empower youth in the community.

            “Many issues start at the local level,” Gaspard said. “Young people are so powerful if they put their minds to it and exercise their rights, they can create change in their community.”

Mark Tendam: Tendam has experience working as the 6th ward alderman and as a member of city council. He has a degree in graphic design and developed many key communication skills from his work in that field. Tendam has also contributed lots of time and effort to the HIV/AIDS organization in Evanston. He worked to battle obstacles such as discrimination, affordable housing, substance abuse and unemployment. During his campaign, he has focused on issues such as creating rewarding jobs for citizens, keeping Evanston a desirable destination, police reform and improving the relationship between the city and Northwestern. Tendam has also concentrated on creating dialogue and discussion on key issues such as race, affordability, inclusion, and equitability.

“We tend to live our lives in our respective bubbles,” Tendam said. “The biggest task going forward is creating relationships and partnerships and work together to solve issues.”

Jeff Smith: Smith is from Chicago and graduated from Harvard Law. He served as an attorney for the City of Chicago and worked as general counsel for Illinois Department of Natural Resources. He has a wide range of experience in government, as well as at the community level. Smith has spent time working with many citizens to solve issues and question authority. He has lived in Evanston for the last 40 years, has put two kids through the public school system; he knows the city very well. During his campaign, he has focused on issues such as affordability, environment, economic development and improving the CTA system. He also has concentrated on police regulation and gun violence.

“I believe that there is a connection between the constant state of war and violence in our cities,” Smith said. “It’s hard for adults to preach to our youth if what they see is not what they hear.

According to Mic News, local elections matter because they have considerable influence on many crucial issues. Local government has control on matters such as policing and parameters on law enforcement, education and environment. Elected officials also represent and advocate for their community to state and federal government.

            “Local issues are what directly affect the daily lives of citizens,” sophomore Phoebe Liccardo said.

            Although most students won’t be voting in this upcoming election, there is still value in staying informed. Everyday, people interact with local government decisions more than they realize. Policies such as the Sanctuary City Proclamation, which protects many undocumented ETHS students, and the Youth Employment Program, which offers over 600 jobs, have impact on many students.

            “Students need to pay attention because it is our community too,” Liccardo said. “Even if we all can’t vote, we all still have a say.

            There are many opportunities for students to express their concerns, especially in Evanston. Reaching out to local government, volunteering for one of the many nonprofit organizations or participating in marches and activism, such as the student walk out, are just some ways that students can make their voices heard.

Although the majority of students are under 18, those who are older can exercise their rights by voting. Early voting is open 9 to 5 p.m. and closes this Sunday. If students missed their chance they can vote this Tuesday, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.