First Ward aldermanic hopefuls hold kickoffs

Though First Ward aldermanic candidates Cheryl Wollin and Judy Fiske held their campaign kickoffs mere blocks apart Sunday, similarities between the two candidates don’t go much farther.

“We’re both blonde,” Fiske said. “I think (the similarities) may end there.”

Fiske and Wollin presented starkly different approaches to First Ward concerns in their first speeches of the campaign season. Although both candidates said they wanted more checks on new development in the ward, Wollin spent much of her speech focusing on the importance of improving relations with Northwestern.

Both are vying for the seat being vacated by Ald. Arthur Newman (1st), who is not seeking re-election. The First Ward contains downtown and dorms west of Sheridan Road. Fiske is co-founder of the Northeast Evanston Historic District Association and has been actively involved in city preservation efforts. Wollin, a former Seventh Ward alderman, teaches at a nearby community college.

Wollin and Fiske kicked off their campaigns at supporters’ luxurious century-old homes, complete with wine, hors d’oeuvres and plenty of supporters.

Judy Fiske

Fiske praised Newman, who attended her speech, for helping revitalize downtown, but she criticized developments that are encroaching on residential areas. She advocated amending Evanston’s zoning ordinance as a solution.

“Downtown sprawl and intrusive development threatens neighborhood character,” Fiske said. “We cannot address this situation piecemeal and ignore it until it happens next door or down the street.”

She also spoke briefly in favor of improving city-university relations.

“It is time to establish a more businesslike relationship with the Northwestern University administration and Board of Trustees,” Fiske said.

Though she did not mention NU students during her speech, Fiske later told The Daily that she hopes to improve safety near campus and to have students join her campaign.

“They really are part of the neighborhood and we want them to be involved,” Fiske said.

She said she plans to reach out to student leaders in residential hall governments to help in her bid for office.

Fiske said she met Wollin at a meeting and asked her why she was running for alderman.

“She said it was to restore civility to the City Council, which would be 35th on my list of 30 items,” Fiske said. “Frankly, I think the City Council works quite well.”

Cheryl Wollin

About 70 Evanston residents, including State Rep. Julie Hamos, D-Evanston, and City Clerk Mary Morris, gathered to hear Wollin’s positions on local issues.

Wollin said she wants to improve relations between the city and NU by keeping lines of communication open.

“Animosity isn’t going to help, insults aren’t going to help and going to court isn’t going to help,” she said. “We can’t ignore Northwestern; they are our biggest neighbor, they are our biggest employer.”

Though she said she was upset about NU’s purchase of 1800 Sherman Ave., Wollin said she strongly supports measures to improve safety for students, such as blue-light phones.

“Our students, whether they’re in kindergarten or in college, have a right to move around safely,” Wollin said.

Wollin said she knew “the word on the street” is that she’s “in Northwestern’s pocket,” but she said that is not the case. Her only connection with the university is that she attends Sheil Catholic Center.

Weinberg junior Patrick Keenan-Devlin, who met Wollin at Sheil, attended the kickoff. He said he appreciated Wollin’s stance on off-campus safety and blue-light phones.

“This selection is extremely important for Northwestern,” Keenan-Devlin said. “Securing our neighborhood is such an important issue.”

On other issues, Wollin said she opposes the dense developments proposed for the Kendall property, supports the redevelopment of the Georgian and wants to work to increase affordable housing in Evanston.

Reach Greg Hafkin at [email protected] and Paul Thissen at [email protected]