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First Ward

February 17, 2021

Judy Fiske

Judy Fiske is the current alderwoman of Evanston’s 1st Ward and is running for re-election this spring. She has lived in Evanston for over 40 years and has been an active participant in civic affairs over the course of her time in the city.

In the past, Fiske has served as president of the Preservation League of Evanston, trustee of the Evanston History Center, an associate member of the Evanston Preservation Commission, treasurer of the Frances Willard Historical Association and appointee to the Police Services Advisory Board.

Most significantly, Fiske has served as 1st Ward alderwoman for the last twelve years.

“As a nearly lifelong Evanstonian, I’ve set my foot, it seems, on every square inch of this beautiful city and have observed it closely,” she said in an interview with the Democratic Party of Evanston (DPoE) last month.

“I believe I bring a unique combination of civic knowledge, valuable experience and strong independence to the Evanston City Council.”

The 1st Ward is home to a large chunk of downtown Evanston and slightly overlaps with parts of the Northwestern University campus. The area is home to approximately 3000 small businesses that accumulate over a billion dollars of annual revenue. Due to the pandemic, the rejuvenation of small businesses has been a prominent topic of discussion between Fiske and her constituents.

“Part of the charm of downtown Evanston is that we have these wonderful little storefronts for niche retail … most of the folks who start those businesses do so with their own personal funds … they’re absolutely committed to the spirit of entrepreneurship that we all think is wonderful.”

Fiske was the co-owner of Fit and Frisky, an independent pet supply business in Downtown Evanston. As a former small business owner herself, Fiske understands the challenges these businesses face and is always looking for ways to elevate the community of small businesses that call downtown Evanston home.

“I continue to serve the council through what I call a reality-based approach, which is based on accurate information, openness to constituent input, practical compromise, genuine compassion and what I hope is calm civility.”

Fiske is also hoping to make 1st Ward housing more affordable and to support the effort of police reform in the Evanston community. In addition, she also aims to combat local zoning laws.

“I think I’m forward-thinking, hard-working, positive, patient and especially respected throughout my ward for the responsiveness to the citizens of my ward,” Fiske emphasized. “In the end, it’s my job to listen to all voices and ultimately identify a course of action.”

* The Evanstonian reached out to Judy Fiske and was unable to schedule an interview. All quotes are from a January interview with Greg Andrus, vice president of the DPoE. To watch the whole interview, click here.

Clare Kelly

Clare Kelly is running for 1st Ward Alderwoman and a seat on Evanston’s City Council. She will be going up against incumbent Judy Fiske. Kelly has lived in Evanston since she was young and has been a Spanish teacher at ETHS for 30 years.

Over the years, Kelly has been very involved in various city efforts. One of her accomplishments was working with the Evanston community to shut down the Northwestern University medical waste incinerator at Evanston Hospital. This led to a City Council ordinance that banned medical waste incineration.

If elected, Kelly aims to implement lasting policies that bring about real change for the minority community living in Evanston. “We absolutely have to be doing a better job at looking at our budget and never forgetting that our budget is a moral document,” Kelly said in an interview with the Democratic Party of Evanston.

“[The budget] really is the blueprint of our priorities, and, clearly, this has been a little bit skewed not towards helping our lower-income population and minorities in Evanston.”

One of the ways Kelly intends to do this is by collaborating with Northwestern to contribute more to the Evanston community. Given that part of the NU campus is within the 1st Ward, she believes this will make communication easier.

Kelly also aims to lower Evanston property taxes, citing the statistic that Evanston has one of the highest tax burdens nationwide.

“I teach at [ETHS] and the population there is close to 40 percent low income, and it’s like we’re trying to create a very rarefied city that’s not accessible for even middle-income people,” Kelly said.

Another one of Kelly’s goals is to address parking reform in downtown Evanston. She believes parking in the 1st Ward is too expensive and that it is hurting the small businesses there. However, she also seeks to support an effort to increase the use of public transportation in Evanston to help combat climate change.

“I do think it’s important to figure out ways we can reduce the use of cars. I think, right now, we have to make downtown as accessible as possible; we need to protect our downtown and ensure that it thrives.”

* The Evanstonian reached out to Clare Kelly and was unable to schedule an interview. All quotes are from a January interview with Greg Andrus, vice president of the DPoE. To watch the whole interview, click here.

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