2nd Ward candidates pitch on NAACP forum

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Seven 2nd Ward residents applying to fill the vacated Ward City Council seat came forward and shared their visions for the community at a public forum on Tuesday night.

The virtual forum was co-sponsored by the NAACP of Evanston/North Shore and the Evanston Chapter of Iota Phi Theta, and was moderated by Willie Shaw, Reverend Khalif Crutcher and Reverend Michael Nabors. More than 30 community members attended the forum summit, including Peter Braithwaite, the former member of the city council whose resignation in July created the vacancy.

Candidates answered a mix of questions prepared and submitted by the public during the one-hour and 40-minute forum, covering topics such as supporting local businesses, addressing community violence and balancing between the development of new housing and the rehabilitation of existing properties. Highlights of each contestant and their responses are listed below, in alphabetical order by last name.

Note: Candidates Mindy Scott and Jesus Vega did not attend the forum.

Keith Banks

Banks is a financial representative at COUNTRY Financial and is executive director of Reba Place Development Corporation, a faith-based advocacy and development organization for affordable housing.

Banks emphasized that housing is the “fundamental stability of our community” and said whether it is affordable will determine whether or not a community will remain cohesive or fracture further. He said a balance between new development and rehabilitation will be needed, citing examples such as The Aux and Temperance Beer Co. as examples of rehabilitation success stories.

“We need to take vacant space, land that’s underutilized by the city, and create new mixed-use developments, you know, commercial downstairs, residential upstairs,” Banks said. “We need to be progressive in how we take advantage of and use rehabilitation and new development. They go together. »

Darlene Cannon

Cannon is a community organizer who serves on the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission and the Evanston Democratic Party Board of Directors. She previously ran against Braithwaite in 2021, eventually finishing 71 votes short.

Cannon said she noticed conflicts on the current city council and said she would approach each of her colleagues with compassion. She said she would focus on considering her constituents’ opinions and concerns when voting and avoid turning disagreements into personal disputes.

“While we don’t always agree, at the end of the day I have to think about what’s best for this community and what’s best for the residents,” Cannon said. “And if things didn’t go as we had hoped, at least (the residents can) know that I made the effort in a polite and rational way to represent them.”

Matthew Farrauto

Farrauto has lived in Evanston for three years, having moved here in 2019 after a career in national politics that included leadership of the New Mexico Democratic Party and serving as director of communications for the Peace Corps under former President Barack Obama . He said his mother had lived in Evanston for 20 years and he returned to care for her after she suffered a stroke.

He said that although he personally does not have a long history in Evanston, he believes the skills and experience he has gained working in national politics can help advance work at the grassroots level in Evanston.

“I have a long history of working with candidates and elected officials in the legislature, and in various capacities which I believe are all relevant to the challenges that Evanston faces,” Farrauto said. “This is an opportunity to potentially give back, and I would love to serve the community on your behalf.”

Patricia Gregoire

Gregory is a physical education teacher at Lincoln Elementary School and a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board. She holds three master’s degrees in curriculum education, physical education and special education.

Gregory said continued support and collaboration with every part of the school system is essential to ensuring student success, and that she hopes all nominees will continue to work for the benefit of the community once the nomination process is complete. ended.

Krissie Harris

Harris is a lifelong Evanstonian and administrator at Oakton Community College whose mother previously served as principal and assistant superintendent of Evanston Township High School. She is a member of the NAACP of Evanston and has previously served on the board of the YWCA of Evanston/North Shore.

Harris said she would address issues such as affordable housing as citywide issues, pointing to plans by 5th Ward City Council member Bobby Burns to build affordable housing on vacant land in Emerson Street as an opportunity for collaboration and consensus building in a critical area.

“We have to realize that our halls are separated by air, so we’re an Evanston at the end of the day, there are no distinct dividing lines,” Harris said. “Being a consensus-seeking council is so important to getting the job done…what affects 5th Ward, 2nd Ward, 1st Ward, affects all of us.”

Blanca Lule

Lule is a longtime resident of the 2nd Ward who serves on the city’s Citizen Police Review Board. She also helps organize the bi-weekly Evanston Latinos cafecito discussions at the Robert Crown Community Center, where Spanish-speaking residents of Evanston are invited to build community and chat with officials such as Acting Chief of Police Richard Eddington.

Lule said that if appointed, she would especially want to address the lack of Spanish-speaking representation and accessibility in city government. She shared how the most recent cafecito The meeting enabled many Spanish-speaking families to enroll in the city’s guaranteed income pilot program with translation assistance.

“One of the biggest complaints I get from our residents…is that they don’t have anyone they think understands their background, their values, or even their language,” Lule said. “One of my big goals would be to make the Spanish-speaking community feel more included, and maybe even educate them about some of the services and things the City of Evanston can provide for them.”

Anya Tanyavutti

Tanyavutti is a member of the Evanston/Skokie 65 School District Board of Trustees, previously serving as board chair and vice-chair. She was first appointed to the board in 2016 and won full terms in elections in 2017 and 2021.

Tanyavutti said his framework for reducing violence includes not only the acts of individuals, but also the violence of systemic oppression and exclusion. She said breaking these systems as a method of harm reduction is a critical part of interrupting the pathway that leads people, and especially young people, to commit acts of violence.

“It is an important act of violence reduction, for our institutions, to commit to ensuring that every resident has the opportunity to realize their full potential,” Tanyavutti said. “We deserve to be free from violence, and it is our human right. We must organize all our resources and all our institutions to ensure that we invest to meet the need that is expressed.

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