Mayor Daniel Biss endorses, asks residents to reelect his Second and Ninth Ward appointees

Tarek Anthony, Staff Writer

With Evanston’s April 4 election day looming near and the battle for office heating up; Evanston Mayor Daniel (Dan) Biss is taking extreme measures to ensure the two candidates he appointed to the council in the fall, Second Ward alderperson Kristian (Krissie) Harris and Ninth Ward alderperson Juan Geracaris, win reelection. On March 9, in an unprecedented move, Biss wrote an email to Evanston residents pleading with them to vote for Harris and Gercaris in the upcoming election. 

Both candidates were appointed in Sept. 2022 by Biss to fill empty council seats after numerous city officials resigned over the summer. In the Second Ward, Harris is being challenged by Darlene Cannon and Patricia Gregory, while long-time Evanston resident Kathy Hayes is challenging Juan Geracaris for the Ninth Ward alderperson seat. 

Biss’s email touched on many controversial political issues; commending Harris and Gercaris for their shared accomplishments since taking office in September including, but not limited to, helping to balance the city budget, the increase in public safety pensions, additional abortion rights protections and helping to pass the new radical Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system in Evanston. 

Biss went on to point out what he described as ‘divisiveness and hostility’ during council debates, saying that Harris and Geracaris have consistently served as a ‘voice of reason and calm’ on council during a ‘turbulent’ time in the community. He closed out the email by writing, “I need them to stay on the city council in order to continue this good work,” encouraging voters to spread his message to fellow residents and to volunteer for Harris and Geracaris’ reelection campaigns.

While Biss’s email did not directly name Harris and Gercaris’ challengers, the letter implied that in his opinion, Cannon, Gregory and Hayes would not serve in his best interests. 

The email, sent from ‘Friends of Daniel Biss,’ a political action committee (PAC) in favor of Biss, faced immediate harsh criticism from many Evanston residents. 

On Monday, March 13, fourteen Ninth Ward residents including former Ninth Ward alderperson Cicely Fleming published an Open Letter response on Evanston Patch calling the email ‘way out of bounds and wildly inappropriate.’

The response further claims that it is the ‘sole’ responsibility of the voters to choose their ward’s council member saying that “The residents of the Second and Ninth Wards are very capable of doing our own research, attending forums, speaking with each candidate and evaluating them on their individual merits. We can then independently and democratically choose the candidate that we would like to represent us on council.” 

A sitting mayor attempting to influence an election by expressing such staunch support for certain candidates in this manner is an extremely rare move; serving as further proof of the extremely hostile political landscape Evanstonians will be forced to navigate before taking to the polls in just three short weeks. 

A copy of the email sent from Mayor Biss in addition to a copy of the Open Letter response from Ninth Ward residents can be found here.