February 17, 2021
In this year’s municipal election, Matthew Mitchell is running for alderman of the 8th Ward. Mitchell, born and raised in Evanston, hopes to win against incumbent Ann Rainey and current City Clerk Devon Reid.
“I’m a lifelong progressive Democrat, proud to be from Evanston, proud of [the] progressive community values of Evanston; I’ve always closely followed Evanston politics,” Mitchell said.
As former chair of Evanston’s Civilian Police Complaint Assessment Committee, attorney of ten years and trained facilitative mediator, Mitchell trusts he can take on the issues in Evanston that he believes are most important, including policing and sustainability.
“I would like to see more civilian involvement in police policy,” Mitchell said. “I would like to see more concrete plans for the Climate Action Resilience Plan (CARP) plan moving forward.”
CARP is designed to fight and prepare for climate change. While the plan has a group of individuals already working to carry out previously approved plans, Mitchell would like to see more policies implemented.
“The next 20 years… we get into the real concrete nuts and bolts of the CARP plan, which is going to take dedication and planning. I would like to see Evanston be fiscally responsible and stable. I would like to see Evanston move towards producing its own electricity.”
Mitchell also wants to help Evanston create a more equal, balanced relationship between Evanston and Northwestern. Using his background as an attorney, he thinks he can use pre-existing laws to take action.
“I think Northwestern takes advantage of Evanston, and it doesn’t contribute its fair share. I think Evanston has a number of tools under the Home Rule law in the State of Illinois that can be used to either derive some funding from Northwestern and/or bring Northwestern to the table to reevaluate a relationship,” Mitchell said.
Currently, Mitchell has ETHS student Anna Levy working on his campaign. He has had conversations with Evanston Fight for Black Lives, believes that young people should be able to express their perspectives on issues and has an open-door policy.
“I think Evanston has the potential to be a national leader in a lot of categories,” Mitchell said. “I would love to be part of that leadership team to make that happen.”
Ann Rainey is once again running for Alderwoman of the 8th Ward. She is currently the longest-serving alderwoman in Evanston history, first coming into the position in 1983 and holding it for all but four years since.
In recent years, she has faced some disagreements, including with activist organization Evanston Fight for Black Lives (EFBL) regarding policing, but has been most noted for her comments regarding opponent Devon Reid who, in a Feb. 2 forum, she called a “scary Black man,” that “every time he speaks, he has to remind us that his parents were in jail…. Enough, already,” and that “He needs to straighten out…. Maybe he just needs to grow up, I’m not sure.” In light of these events, all three mayoral candidates issued statements denouncing Rainey’s actions, and Rainey has been strongly condemned by EFBL.
In an interview with the Democratic Party of Evanston, Rainey said, “I’ve had conversations with [EFBL] having to do with too much policing. And because of that… we’ve taken a look at where that happened and… I’ve not found that to be the case, but at least it was of concern enough that I looked into it.”
One thing Rainey has been in continuous support of is the Climate Action Resilience Plan (CARP), in particular, she believes in inoculating trees and maintaining our current trees.
“Every time it comes up to inoculate the elms, we have a fight because it’s so expensive and new aldermen or aldermen who are tired of spending money on trees think ‘Well, maybe we should put this off.’ No! We shouldn’t put it off, we should maintain these big, huge, beautiful trees we have and inoculate them. The inoculations work… they saved 1000s of trees,” Rainey commented in the same interview.
When Rainey began her first term in 1983 her main focus was on creating more decent housing, a goal she believes she achieved. As she moves on to new goals, she hopes to use her experience to continue representing the 8th Ward.
Rainey continued, “I think I’ve done a really excellent job. I’ve provided excellent service… I feel such a privilege of having served the 8th Ward. It’s a great ward. It’s extremely diverse, it has all sorts of various kinds of housing and people, and it’s come a long way… I just want to continue to serve.”
* The Evanstonian reached out to Ann Rainey for comment and received no response.
Current City Clerk Devon Reid is running for 8th Ward alderman. In the last election, he defeated a two-term incumbent in the fight for City Clerk at the age of 24 and looks to do it again running against Ann Rainey.
Reid’s time as City Clerk hasn’t gone without its controversies, namely his ongoing dispute with the City Council over the release of police misconduct records. However, he has managed to achieve some of his main missions, reaching out to the community, allowing Evanstonians to learn more about government and involving citizens in decision-making within the community.
“Over my tenure, more folks are participating in our democracy; they’re deploying records, and they’re showing up at the council meetings,” Reid said in an interview with Evanston Live TV.
Reid has also digitized many government documents. He believes that citizens of Evanston can become more involved in crafting public policy by the release of public information.
“We can… make Evanston the most livable city in America that we strive to be,” Reid said in the same interview. “We focused on digitizing records. We’ve digitized all of the ordinances going back to the 1950s in a text-searchable database.”
Reid wants to use the position as alderman to make Evanston a more equitable place. He has personal experience with being homeless and in the foster care system. He wants people to see someone who went through a struggle and survived.
Reid added, “We are representing the issues of folks [in Evanston] who are least proximate to power… This campaign is about building an Evanston that is made for everyone. That means single mothers of two children. That means Latinx entrepreneurs. That means young folks who are striving to close the achievement gap and homeowners and renters who are struggling to make ends meet.”
* The Evanstonian reached out to Devon Reid for comment and received no response.
Shelley Carrillo and Joshua Hall are also in the 8th Ward alderman race as write-in candidates.