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February 17, 2021
With her first term as alderwoman for the 9th Ward completed, Cicely Fleming is running for re-election in the upcoming election. Throughout her political career, both on the City Council and as a member of outside organizations, Fleming has worked to promote social justice and improve education.
“I’ve committed to serving one more term because I do have hope that Evanston can transform itself into a better city,” Fleming said. “There are lots of racial tensions which I think are probably new for our white community. In that space, I would like us to get past this empathetic ‘Oh, I feel really bad that this is happening,’ or ‘I’m just learning this is happening,’ and move to a more proactive ‘This is happening; how are we going to change it?’”
As an alderwoman, Fleming has been part of various committees. Her commitments have included chairing the Alternative Emergency Police Response Committee, which has begun trying to address the problems of police violence in our community.
“We’re trying to make a new response model for 911 calls or crisis calls that don’t need an armed police officer. As we’re seeing nationally, mental and behavioral health problems and substance abuse are on the rise, and we know they’ve risen more during the pandemic, and those folks don’t necessarily need a police officer to respond to them; they need a trained mental health or behavioral health professional.”
Another concern for Fleming is the engagement of Evanston youth, especially in the field of education.
“I don’t think we do our best to be holistically supporting our young people,” Fleming said.
Even before she was on City Council, this concern led her to co-found the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL). Since 2014, OPAL has focused on decreasing of racial inequality and educating Evanston voters.
“We started as a group of citizens who were frustrated by the achievement gap between Black students and white students,” Fleming said. “We wanted to make some structural changes to the student experience.”
OPAL has also worked to inform Evanston voters about different aspects of our educational system, such as the actions of the school board and different candidates’ stances on education.
Another goal for Fleming is to get more students involved in local politics.
“We don’t really make space for young people in politics, and if we do, it’s often just patronizing,” Fleming said. “I think working with young people, helping them explore [politics] if they’re interested in a political career is really important.”