Possible CSNA endorsements

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.


In addition to the important city elections, we also must discuss the upcoming school board elections. I believe at least, or almost half of the seats on both District 65 and District 202 seats will be in contention.

Maybe we have some members who are aware of what the important issues are and would like to begin a forum to inform the rest of community.

The school board elections are very important this year. The majority of our tax dollars are directed to the schools and there are a number of important issues.

D65 is uncontested. Jerome Summers, Andy Pigozi (who took over Sharon Sheenan's seat following her resignation in protest to Dr. Murphy's contract extension) will seek reelection. Mary Rita Luecke and Mary Erikson will not be seeking another term. 4 spots.

Jessica Clark is running. She worked on the strategic planning committee and is a strong advocate for children not meeting NCLB. There is talk that one other person will run which would still leave the race uncontested.

D202 is currently contested. Three incumbents have taken out petitions for 4 spots. Missy Flemming, Martha Burns and Rachael Hayman. Two others are also running for the board, Deb Graham and Gretchen Livingston.

Current issues at the high school include:

the removal of senior honors track

lack of parental input on placement

lack of High School preparedness (7 out of 10 students enter ETHS in need of remedial support)

continued efforts to meet NCLB

Vocational education

need for increased attention on college preparedness

deterioration of excellence and it's corresponding effect on property values

I'm sure there is more.

Jane Berkley