I have heard some people question why the CSNA Board evaluated Elizabeth Tisdahl as "recommended" for mayor, given the difficulties that CSNA had with her with respect to the Central Street Theater condominium project. I am not a member of the Board, but I understand and agree with the evaluation, based on my active involvement in north Evanston zoning issues for the last few years, including arranging the coming together of the residents of the Sixth Ward (my ward) and the Seventh Ward in opposition to the Theater project as proposed.
We did have significant differences with Tisdahl on the Theater project. I believe Tisdahl unfortunately made commitments to the developers prior to the rise of citizen opposition, from which she subsequently was unwilling to back down more than a certain degree.
Tisdahl did arrange for the developers to make a presentation regarding the project at a Seventh Ward meeting. However, almost no time was allowed for comments or questions, and the project was misleadingly presented, there and in subsequent stages of the zoning process, as a choice between a supposedly "as of right" ugly four-story, lot-filling, 300-foot long building and an attractive but still greatly outsized (for the neighborhood) five-story, 250-foot long building with preservation of an adjoining nondescript yet supposedly historic house. As we constantly noted, nothing is "as of right" in a planned developent.
When substantial opposition did arise, Tisdahl got the developers to reduce the height from five stories to four stories (with loss of the historic house and a less attractive, but much better than initally depicted, design).
More significantly, although Tisdahl surprisingly does not take credit for it, she was instrumental in subsequently helping CSNA shepherd the Central Street Plan -- which preserves the character of Central Street from end to end while allowing substantial compatible development and providing incentives for significant improvements -- through the zoning process all the way from the zoning committee of the Plan Commission through the City Council. She attended all the critical meetings and provided crucial support (not provided by Eb Moran) at critical points.
So I believe Tisdahl is sensitive to citizen concerns, understands Evanston, is moveable (if she hasn't precommitted herself) by good arguments, and knows how to get stuff done on the council.
In contrast, during the Plan Commission hearings on the Theater Project, Stuart Opdycke was closed-minded, dismissive of citizen input, and abrasive.
Barnaby Dinges, who initially impressed me, seems quite dismissive of citizen concerns and citizen groups and apparently is very pro-development without regard to its impacts on Evanston's character, economy, or political integrity. He has dismissed widespread, legitimate serious concerns about various aspects of the 708 Church Street project, including its (as just approved) 400-foot height (which bothers others more than it bothers me), lack of significant public benefits (other than those already mandated by the city code), lack of adequate required parking (justified by consultants' studies known by the council to be flawed); lack of office space and significant retail to provide downtown services and workers and draw others downtown (with resultant losses in retail business and sales taxes), postponement for years of required commencement of construction (leaving space stagnant and emptying, as with the Theater project, with greatly reduced and even lessened projected future property taxes), etc.
Dinges dismisses Tisdahl (and fellow council members Melissa Wynne and Steve Bernstein, who have voiced these concerns as concerns they themselves have and thus voted against the tower proposal as it stands rather than going along with the majority of the current council, who seem to be willing to approve any project on any terms written by the developer) as "pandering" to "ready-made political group[s]" [Evanston Review, April 2, 2009, page 5; see his similar comments quoted in the Evanston Roundtable, March 18, page 4].
That leaves Jeanne Lindwall, by whom I am impressed given everything I have read about her. Unfortunately, she seems to be behind in the four-way race, so much so that the CSNA Board has concluded that a vote for her would not result in her election but might result in the election of someone who would not be good for Evanston.