Life-long Evanston resident named Second Ward Alder

Tarek Anthony, Staff Writer

In light of the resignation of former Second Ward Alderman Peter Brathiewhite, Mayor Daniel Biss has appointed fifth-generation Evanston resident Kristian “Krissy” Harris to serve as the interim Alderperson for the Second Ward. Braithwaite resigned this past June amid growing local political turmoil in Evanston due to personal reasons. Braithewhite’s resignation added to a growing list of city officials stepping down this past year, including Ninth Ward Alderwomen Cicely Fleming and interim city manager Kelly Gandurski. Braithwaite served as Alderman for the Second Ward for 10 years after being appointed in 2012, following the resignation of Alderman Jean Baptiste. 

Harris was chosen by Biss following a Second Ward Candidate Forum on Sept. 6, which featured seven candidates vying for the position, including candidate Darlene Cannon, who lost by a mere 71 votes to Braithwaite in the last election cycle. In the forum, the issue of gun violence and police department funding took center stage. Many candidates vowed to work on reducing gun violence in the city and improving the relationship between citizens and the Evanston Police Department. Harris identified the topics of public safety, affordable housing, and community engagement as her top priorities for the City of Evanston. 

“Getting back to the community [and having] standards are so important … We can touch kids and families at a younger age and show them, (that) there are other ways, [of] providing support to help families in need. [There is] generational trauma… so (we are) trying to find services, and I think Evanston has the services. It’s just getting people patched into those services and building a bigger, better, and broader community engagement [to stop violence],” said Harris. 

Harris hopes to connect with her community by continuing Braithwhite’s monthly ward meetings to connect with the community and address constituent concerns, hoping to travel to various locations across the ward to maximize meeting attendance. 

“I like to say it’s like the Wizard of Oz. We know what we see in front of the screen, but behind the screen could be a whole different story. I want to make sure I’m understanding what the needs of the constituents of the Second Ward (are), how that falls into place with the rest of the city, and how we get (things) accomplished,” Harris said. 

A lifelong Evanston resident, Harris has worked as the Manager of Student Life and Campus Inclusion at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines for the past 24 years. Harris has been an active member of the Evanston community serving as a trustee of the 2nd Baptist Church in addition to serving on the board of directors of the YMCA and Family Focus additionally working with the Daejon Coleman Foundation, a scholarship program in honor of the 14-year-old who was killed in 2012. 

A proud ETHS alumn, Harris has numerous degrees and certificates, including a Bachelors degree in Construction Management, a master’s in Education Administration as well as certificates in Substance Abuse Counseling, Elder Care Support, Human Services and Sexual assault training, which all qualify her for the new position. 

“I always say I started [my education] with [helping] building things and ended my degree in helping build people. I think that’s what a council position is about, helping build the community, helping build the people in it (and ultimately) helping build a better life,” said Harris. 

Harris will serve the Second Ward until the 2023 spring election cycle when she will have to win a special election to maintain her seat in office.