Mayor contest up to 4, some want a 5th

The surprising entry of Stuart Opdycke into the Evanston mayor's race makes it almost certain Evanston will be going to the polls in late February. A mayoral primary is required unless there are only two candidates, and Plan Commission member Opdyche's announcement makes four, with possibly others waiting in the wings.

None of the others have made official announcements, but urban planner Jeanne Lindwall, an ECRD activist and a political ally of Judy Fiske who sued Ald. Cheryl Wollin after the last election, has been telling people for months that she is definitely running. My alderman, Liz Tisdahl, has recently made the same announcement to her fellow aldermen. DPOE board member Mark Tendam, who ran unsuccessfully for alderman against Eb Moran in 2005, also has been telling friends and associates that he is running. None of these are just rumors.

I was at a number of political events over the past few days and a persistent buzz is that CSNA president and Democratic activist Jeff Smith is running for mayor. A lot of us wish that were so, and I know many people have urged Jeff to do just that. He would get a lot of support. But while Jeff has not completely ruled it out, he is exploring other options.

Reportedly some current or former aldermen have also considered running, with the names of Steve Bernstein, Ann Rainey, and Delores Holmes popping up the most often. Would Liz's entry keep other aldermen out?

Meanwhile here in the 7th Ward, it looks like there will be an open seat. Former DPOE president John Zbesko, and Evanston Community Foundation leader Jane Grover are the names I consistently hear, but I have also heard others may also be considering a run.


Isn't that Stuart Opdycke, with a K?

My apologies to Stuart

Stuart Opdycke is, of course, the Plan Commissioner who stated that citizens who don't attend Plan Commission meetings to oppose the proposed Tower "must be in favor of it."

One would think that Opdycke's legal training would make him aware of the glaring logical fallacy in the above statement.

--Barb Rakley

Trish, thank you for posting that news; I've heard the same things you have; hope you don't mind if I expand on some of it.

First, I'm honored that so many have urged that I run for mayor or alderman, but surprised that question keeps circulating -- I thought it was the rumor of early summer, not early fall :) I don't intend to make any statement here now, but as I think you know, I haven't taken any steps toward a mayoral run, nor alderman.

More important, tho, I wanted to expand some on the other likely candidates you mention, some of whom our readership might not know.

Jeanne Lindwall, before being involved in ECRD, was helpful to the Friends of the Civic Center, served as, I believe, the City's Preservation Coordinator, and worked with preservationists in northeast Evanston. She understands TIF districts better than most people and will, I expect and hope, have a campaign that brings some light to bear on critical City financial issues. She has contributed some well-crafted, eloquent statements to the public debate.

Liz Tisdahl was at odds with CSNA, as we all know, on the 1700 Central (Evanston Theater) development dispute, but has shown recognition of resident concerns on downtown planning, the libraries, and of late the Civic Center, and has hosted a number of well-attended ward meetings. I've always found her accessible, and as far as I know she is the only candidate who is a member of this organization.

Stu Opdycke has put in yeoman hours on the Plan Commission and has a genuine passion for the City, and sincerely wants it to be prosperous and fiscally sound. He speaks his mind, and as a lawyer would be expected to be an advocate for Evanston.

Graphic designer Mark Tendam has been generous with his time, his home, and his pocketbook, giving board service in the nonprofit sector, and helping other individuals and groups working to make Evanston a better place. A well-organized small businessman, he is well-liked by many in this neighborhood, and we have many mutual friends.

Are there issues on which I'd disagree with Stuart, Jeanne, or Liz? Sure. Mark, too, probably, tho I haven't heard where he stands on any of the issues wracking the City in the past couple years. But there are issues on which you'd probably differ with me too. A candidate comes as a complete package, and rarely is anyone our clone.

It's a positive sign that mayor of Evanston is still a job where numerous folks feel good things can be done. If the field jells at these four, Evanston will have some choices. If I or anybody else jump in, my fervent hope would be that the reasons are not negative, but to bring something different or extra to the conversation. I'd like to hear candidates address the widespread cynicism and disconnect characterizing so many residents' feeling about the government closest to home.

I am hopeful that any and all candidates will feel free to express themselves on this community website, and that this forum will showcase the best of Evanston in being intelligent, probing, and courteous, no matter how strong the feelings.

Jeff Smith should run for mayor.

Among the qualifications needed for mayor three are key:

• A clear vision for Evanston,
• An exceptional ability to communicate and
• A proven ability to bring constituencies together.

In Jeff, I have seen all three ….accompanied always by a passion for good governance, a willingness to listen and a respect for all opinions.

Jeff’s candidacy would enliven and inform an election campaign that would be focused on key issues and on a vision that seems needed in city government. Jeff would add greatly to an already healthy mix.

Jeff, if you are reading this….you have a hat. Toss it. Make it five.

I agree that Jeff has what it takes to be an excellent mayor or alderman (personally I would love to see him unseat Moran). I would add that Jeff not only has a clear vision but a vision that corresponds with the wishes of most Evanstonians. And, Jeff is committed to democratic principles and citizen participation. Our city has lost its progressive, democratic character and we need to recapture it before we all become homogeneous suburbanites!

My only concern about the elections is that the rabidly pro high-rise candidates might win if too many sensible, smart growth candidates enter the electoral contests. Luckily the mayoral race will have a runoff to prevent such an outcome but the aldermanic races do not have run off elections.

So, Jeff, help us take the city back and either run against Moran or run for mayor!

Peter Sanchez