This is in response to Barb Rakley's question in a separate thread but I decided to post this as a separate forum topic.
As you know, involvement in political campaigns is not a principal purpose of the Central Street Neighbors Association. However, providing guidance for members and Evanston residents in the upcoming non-partisan races would certainly be consistent with what we say we do and our core purposes. So far there's been no decision to do that, and no procedure in place. But the Board has discussed the possibility.
We will probably discuss this again at the next regular Board meeting. While adopting an endorsement procedure would not require a bylaws change, we will probably seek membership input, and perhaps decision, at the annual meeting Dec. 11).
Traditional Evanston campaigns seem to consist largely of who has the most names (or most well-known names) on a supporters list, or the most yard signs. Those are helpful indicators, but candidates addressing community groups' concerns makes for a more robust conversation. CSNA should adopt some sort of endorsement, recommendation, or qualification process, and it should be member-based rather than only a Board decision, but with a significant threshhold (of at least 60%) and perhaps a Board ratification step as well.
It would be important that (a) any guidance to the community reflect significant majority opinion within the organization, and (b) that the process be protected against political gamesmanship. I am also committed to protecting members' privacy.
Note that with 4 candidates in the mayoral race, and at least three in the 7th, securing even a simple majority might not be possible.
Note also that an organization need not necessarily simply say "Vote for X." We could adopt a process that finds some candidate or candidates "recommended" or "qualified." Or some numerical or letter rating.
An alternative to endorsing might be simply to publicize an educational piece on candidates' positions (which we should do in any case). Another option would be to form a separate political committee to carry on any direct campaign activities.
Finally, note that the above is my opinion. CSNA is a membership organization and membership opinion should drive the decision.