Candidate dirties hands to prepare for politics

Paul Thissen

For First Ward aldermanic candidate Cheryl Wollin, touring the muddy storm sewer was just part of her job.

"It was too deep for me, I’ll tell you that," she said. "I’m sure those pictures could be used for blackmail. We were such a mess."

Wollin served as Seventh Ward alderman between 1989 and 1993 when she lived in northwest Evanston. She moved into her Sherman Avenue condo about six years ago, placing her in the First Ward.

She now faces preservation activist Judy Fiske in a two-way race to replace Ald. Arthur Newman (1st).

Wollin said she toured the sewer, being built under McCormick Boulevard, because the city was spending so much money on it.

A political science teacher at Oakton Community College for 27 years, Wollin got involved in politics in the late 1980s when she worked to bring curbside recycling to Evanston. This led her to run for alderman.

Evanston government hasn’t been her only involvement in politics — she has worked against the death penalty through the League of Women Voters for the last few years.

Why is she running for alderman again? The number of legal challenges against the city can be reduced, she said, and city government could be run more efficiently.

For example, other cities don’t have council meetings that last into the morning, she said.

"Nobody makes good decisions after midnight," Wollin said.

She said she also was unhappy that the city has so much legal liability.

"I’m not happy with the number of lawsuits," Wollin said. "I think some of them could have been avoided."

Specifically, she said the lawsuit between Northwestern and Evanston could have been avoided through a better relationship between the city and the university. "I’m a firm believer that things can be accomplished in government through relationships," Wollin said.

"(At one point) you could call up administrators and ask, ‘What’s going on with this problem?’ and they’d give you an answer."

On town-gown relations, Wollin disagrees with Newman, who is retiring. Newman said the university was responsible for the lawsuit and the city could do nothing.

Wollin and Newman seldom agreed — about anything.

"There’ve been some fractious relationships under alderman Newman," Wollin said.

"I don’t remember her coming up with any ideas," Newman said. "I saw her pretty much as a rubber stamp for the city manager."

But others who worked on the council with her disagree.

"She worked hard and was a good contributor to the discussion and debate on the council," Ald. Edmund Moran (6th) said."She brought what I thought was an intelligent approach to council work."

Delores Holmes, a Fifth Ward aldermanic candidate who worked with Wollin in the League of Women Voters, also praised Wollin’s work ethic.

"She does her homework (and) makes sure she has all the facts," Holmes said.

Wollin said she just wants to improve the place she lives.

"There’s so much about this city I really love," she said.

"I just want to see it thrive."

Reach Paul Thissen at [email protected].