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February 17, 2021
ETHS alumna Diane Goldring is one of two candidates challenging incumbent Don Wilson for the 4th Ward alderman position to pursue more progressive policy in Evanston.
“I feel like Evanston can do a much better job these days living up to what it professes as progressive values,” Goldring said. “Now, equity, climate change and affordable housing and all the big issues that we can lead on. We haven’t been leading lately, and [it’s] time for a change.”
Goldring’s involvement in the Evanston community includes working for Step Up for Youth, which fundraises for Evanston foundations; the educational advocacy board Evanston CASE; volunteering for Jennifer’s Edibles; Joining Forces for Affordable Housing and Connections for the Homeless. While delivering food through Jennifer’s Edibles, Goldring noted differences in funding for different facilities in the same town.
“It’s like two different worlds, and they’re right across the street from each other,” Goldring said. “So, I decided that, really, while I’ve done good work in volunteering and organizing and donating, the only lasting way to make lasting change is through policy.”
“This is the way things have always been done… if there’s not a whole lot of turnover [in City Council positions], it’s just going to be very similar,” Goldring said.
Goldring names the most immediate issue that Evanston faces is COVID-19 and its impact on employment, food insecurity and housing security for Evanston residents. Another issue she would address is making sure lifetime residents can afford to stay here as living costs have steadily risen in Evanston.
“Making sure we have been able to help people who [are] poor and middle class and in just a wide range of economic circumstances afford to live here and stay here and thrive here,” Goldring said. “You can have market forces working against us, though, and it’s going to take government intervention to get that done.”
Goldring also intends to listen to and work with the youth activists in Evanston while making City Council decisions.
“When we learn as old people, we learn a lot from young people,” Goldring said. “We tend to think we’re the ones who have life experience… but you have to have an open mind, especially when it comes to climate. You guys are the ones who are going to inherit this earth and we managed to screw it up for you.”
Jonathan Nieuwsma is one of two candidates challenging incumbent Don Wilson for 4th Ward alderman in the upcoming election.
“I’ve been up in front of the City Council dozens of times over the last decade as an advocate… pushing climate action, energy efficiency, renewable energy, environmental justice,” Nieuwsma said.
Nieuwsma is focusing his campaign on four priorities: equity, environmental sustainability, engagement and economic development.
“I want to be a responsive and engaged alderman and make sure that the government and the decision-makers of the city are truly representing the needs of the community,” Nieuwsma said. “And to continue the work that I have been doing over the last decade.”
As part of his devotion to sustainability, Nieuwsma wants to actively work towards the goals listed in Climate Action Resilience Plan (CARP) passed by the Council in late 2018.
“I want to make sure that CARP implementation is an official City Council goal. [This means] forc[ing] every decision at every level to be examined through a CARP lens, which includes CARP’s commitment to equity and environmental justice,” Nieuwsma said.
For equity, Nieuwsma wants to continue progress with reparations and focus on affordable housing.
“As a City Council member, I would be committed to taking the recommendations of the reparation subcommittee and making sure that their recommendations are institutionalized within the city government and city structure,” Nieuwsma said.
He emphasizes the importance of community engagement for making effective decisions for the city.
“I’m committed to being accessible and available to the community with regular ward meetings,” Nieuwsma said. “Making sure that folks that are impacted by decisions are the ones who are invited to the table to discuss them.”
With regards to economic goals, Nieuswma talks about promoting local businesses to Evanstonians and people outside of Evanston.
“Whatever we can do as a city to promote local businesses, small businesses and certainly to promote women and minority-owned businesses [should be done],” Nieuwsma said. “I would like to promote Evanston as a destination for arts and entertainment.”
Overall, Nieuwsma hopes he can bring more responsiveness, transparency and greater commitment to social justice and climate action to the Evanston community.
Incumbent Don Wilson is running for what he intends to be his fourth and final term as 4th Ward alderman. Besides his three terms as alderman, Wilson has been involved in the Evanston community through the Zoning Board of Appeals, Animal Welfare Society board, open art studio projects and coaching youth sports.
“Participating in those different things started to give me more of a view and a picture of where I felt there were deficiencies in our governance,” Wilson said. “So, that’s really what motivated me to run.”
In the last 12 years, Wilson lists one of his political accomplishments as focusing on developing affordable housing in the 4th Ward, including working on the amended Inclusionary Housing Act, which passed in late 2018.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve created some [affordable housing units]… and brought in more money,” Wilson said. “But, I also think it’s important as a community to continue with that. It’s an ongoing conversation.”
Wilson has also worked on an assault weapon ban ordinance, a sanctuary city ordinance that entailed suing Former United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions for attempting to limit federal funding for sanctuary cities and the Robert Crown Community Center project.
“Not only did we just build an amazing community center, but we had a model that raised a significant portion of the money, roughly 20 percent, from private sources, so that really limits the impact on taxpayers,” Wilson said.
Wilson says he is eager to keep working on and supporting the reparations initiative in Evanston and community safety issues if he wins a fourth term. He lists crossing guards, bike lanes, policing, no stop-and-frisk tolerance and never suspending civil rights as important pillars of community safety to be improved.
“[Evanston police officers] are all people that work very hard… are very open to change and open to evolving and really intent on having what I think should be the best police force in the country,” Wilson said.
One goal Wilson has going forward is to work on civil dialogue in the community. He talks about the discourse over the summer about defunding the police.
“Some people came to my house, and I talked to them on the lawn,” Wilson said. “That was really great for me to hear some of these specific concerns that I wasn’t aware of; it was good to have them fleshed out.”
Patricia Connolly and Sari Kadison-Shapiro are also in the 4th Ward alderman race as write-in candidates.