City Manager Selection Process Fails Residents


Last night, Oct. 19th, 2020 The Evanston City council selected the new city manager in spite of the calls from the public have a more transparent process and community input as was promised early in the year. 

The Alliance for a Better Government, an Evanston group striving to shine a light on our Evanston Process's which habitually bypass real public involvement, and lack transparency wrote the letter below.  The decision to select the interim manager was decided within hours after the public had the opportunity to hear the interviews with the 3 candidates which HR.Gov had whittled down from 70 applications. You can watch the City Manager Candidate Forum here:

The residents never had time to give their alderpeople their residents input as far as what they felt were the pros and cons of each candidate because, after the forum, the council went into executive session and made their decision. 

Below is a letter from The Community Alliance for Better Government (Read more)

Dear Supporters of a Just Evanston,

These past 12 months were a wake-up call for all of us about what our Evanston city government is, and what it could be if it were shaped around its people rather than around itself like an echo chamber. 

For many of us, last year's restructuring of the Youth and Young Adult Division, starting with the firing of Kevin Brown, the respected founding coordinator of that department, was the beginning. The reasons continue to mystify us and it raised awareness of the fact that over the prior couple of years, Black staff leaders like Kevin were either being fired, entering early retirement or simply leaving.

But Kevin's firing showed us something else about Evanston's elected officials and City Manager: they don't acknowledge the voices of their own constituents. Even if Aldermen disagree with what people say, at the very least they can respond with some empathy for their point of view before justifying their own. There was no response at all, as though we were trees falling in the wilderness.

This is what we saw with the City Manager search process. Regardless of how one feels about Erika Storlie, Evanston's City Council shows itself to be committed to the comfort of a status quo manner of acting.

This is the structural fault line in Evanston: It is impossible to resolve, as the City Council did last year, to end systemic racism in all its forms, including establishing a Reparations program to address past harms, while changing nothing about how it does business. The process is the product. A process that does not change cannot possibly lead to anything more radical than tweaks around the edges.

Last night, Erika Storlie was approved as City Manager with the bare minimum vote: 7 (including the Mayor) to 3. 

What Went Right

  • YOU! Every comment was heartfelt, insightful, and respectful. 
  • Aldermen Cicely Fleming, Tom Suffredin, and Robin Rue Simmons understood two things: the process was unfairly abbreviated and Ms. Storlie was not the most qualified candidate.
  • As we requested, the Aldermen who voted for Storlie told us their reasons.

What Was Frustrating

  • No acknowledgement of the pain expressed by almost every commenter from any Aldermen, the Mayor, or Storlie in her acceptance, especially regarding anti-Black racism. 
  • Aldermen who voted against the contract did not use the opportunity to speak.
  • No explanation for why the public process was shut down just hours after the public forum before Aldermen could solicit feedback.
  • Underreporting by the media of the process issues underlying our concerns. It was just about Erika Storlie but about a government that is committed to innovation and racial equity.


  • Sign up for our mailing list so we can organize outreach to our Aldermen and City Manager over many issues, including building a progressive City Council, committed to racial equity. 
  • Participate in budget discussions. Remember: the budget is an expression of our values and ethics.

We are outraged and frustrated -- but we are not daunted. Through this City Manager search process, we are clearer on the kind of Evanston we want to be. 

Again, please sign up for our Ward list and stay active. We'll be in touch.

Stay well and safe,

Community Alliance for Better Government