Your donation will support the student journalists of the Evanstonian. We are planning a big trip to the Journalism Educators Association conference in Boston in November 2022, and any support will go towards making that trip a reality. Contributions will appear as a charge from SNOSite. Donations are NOT tax-deductible.
February 17, 2021
Four years ago, Tom Suffredin was inspired to run for alderman of the 6th Ward because of a block party permit.
“My wife and I both grew up here, and our block party permit got rejected. And it started this whole series of events that culminated in my running for alderman,” said Suffredin.
Having grown up in Evanston, Suffredin is familiar with the city and the issues it faces. One thing, in particular, he’s concerned about is the cost of living.
“I think having a financially sound city benefits everybody,” said Suffredin. “That’s a big issue, because when we’re irresponsible with our spending, that has long-term effects.”
Not only does he want to keep Evanston affordable for residents, but Suffredin wants to make the city a place that people who grew up in want to return to.
Suffredin commented, “I think a big metric is always how many people grew up here, lived somewhere else, but move back here… So, how do we continue to encourage that?”
While serving on the City Council, Suffredin also works as a lawyer. He had never run for office before running for City Council, and there are many things he looks forward to working on should he be reelected, especially things that have been started but not finished in the past four years.
“Downtown [Evanston] was already in a period of transformation, prior to COVID-19. Now that’s been accelerated, and it’s an opportunity to redefine what our downtown is and will be,” Suffredin said.
While rebuilding after the pandemic will bring new opportunities, Suffredin also predicts financial hardship for the City of Evanston.
“I think our biggest obstacle on the revenue side is going to be to recover from the pandemic,” he said. “We are very reliant on parking revenue, sales tax, liquor tax and a lot of things that we did not get this year because people just weren’t engaging in the activities that generate that revenue.”
According to Suffredin, there will be a few ways to deal with this, such as setting realistic expectations for revenues and adjusting spending accordingly. But there are also things that will need to be avoided when the economy is recovering.
“Property tax increases are one of the biggest things that we need to avoid because our property tax burdens are already so significant relative to the communities around us.”
A resident of the 6th Ward for over 30 years, Katie Trippi is a third-generation Evanstonian who, if elected, will be a second-generation City Council member.
“My stepdad was a council member in the 1970s. His name was James B. Moran, and he is actually who the Moran Center for Youth Advocacy is named after,” Trippi said.
Trippi currently works for the McGaw YMCA and has been very active in the not-for-profit sector of Evanston, serving on the board of directors for organizations including Youth Opportunity United, the Infant Welfare Society of Evanston and the Evanston Women’s Club.
Before working for the YMCA, Trippi was a political consultant and organizer.
“On the national level, I’ve worked on a number of presidential campaigns and U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns,” said Trippi.
What inspired her to run for alderwoman of the 6th Ward was that the current alderman, Tom Suffredin, was the only City Council member to vote against reparations.
“I very much disagree with that vote. I think the reparations work that’s being done by the City of Evanston is groundbreaking and fantastic, and I support it wholeheartedly,” said Trippi. “So, I said, this is the time, I need to step up and represent my ward.”
Should she be elected, Trippi has a few plans for things she’d like to accomplish, including helping restaurants and small businesses recover from the pandemic and sustaining affordable housing and living in Evanston.
“I think it’s an amazing moment in time to be able to be a leader at the local level, because I really think that that’s where people can make a difference,” said Trippi.
Having been very active within the community herself, Trippi is particularly encouraged by the youth activism she has seen recently.
“There’s just evidence all over, especially in Evanston, that our youth, our kids, our young people are striving to point us all in the right direction,” said Trippi. “It’s time that they take the lead, and I’m ready to follow them and support them in any way that I can.”
While there is lots of hardship right now, Trippi sees hope for the future.
“[Now there’s] such a great opportunity to rebuild our economy, our social structures, all with that lens of equity,” said Trippi. “That is so important, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to tear down some of the systemic racism that is built into our original economy and social structures.”