Candidates make 2nd council bid

Breanne Gilpatrick

Incumbents on the Evanston City Council aren’t the only campaign veterans in this year’s aldermanic elections.

Five candidates on the April 5 ballot have made previous runs for alderman. In addition to former Seventh Ward alderman Cheryl Wollin, who is now running in the First Ward, four others — Betty Ester, Marty Norkett, Mimi Peterson and Junad Rizki — have made unsuccessful bids for office.

Seventh Ward aldermanic candidate Rizki will be running his fourth election campaign this year. Not only did Rizki run for Seventh Ward alderman in 2001, but he also made two runs for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board in the 1990s.

Rizki said his election bids have been motivated by current city issues, such as this year’s concern about saving the city’s elms from Dutch elm disease. He said the status of the city will determine future decisions to run for office.

“It depends on what issues are going on in the future and what’s going on four years from now,” Rizki said.

Making a second run for office can give candidates an opportunity to learn from past mistakes. Sixth Ward candidate Norkett said he has made several changes to his campaign since his run for Sixth Ward alderman in 2001. Norkett said he has a Web site for this year’s race, which he will continue to operate if elected.

“I think the biggest issue is we have to get the issues out into the public,” he said.

Norkett said he also started organizing his campaign earlier this year and has a much larger staff of people helping him. He has 10 people working for his campaign this year, instead of the three he had in 2001.

This year’s campaign veterans are not the only ones learning from 2001. Another former Sixth Ward candidate, Omar Khuri, said he decided not to run again this year because he thought it would be better to serve as Norkett’s campaign manager.

“In 2001 Marty Norkett and I split the vote, which went a long way to help the current alderman get elected,” Khuri said. “It was more important for me to join Marty.”

But for Peterson, who is running for Ninth Ward alderman, 2005 will be an entirely different race. Peterson ran for Fourth Ward alderman in 2001 and lost to now-incumbent Ald. Steven Bernstein.

Peterson now lives in the Ninth Ward in south Evanston and is running for an open seat after Ald. Gene Feldman (9th) announced in May that he will retire at the end of his term.

Although there are some strategies common to all campaigns, running in a different neighborhood in a race where she isn’t facing an incumbent will create new challenges, Peterson said.

“It’s a different ward,” she said. “It’s a whole different ball game.”

Ester also has moved since she ran for Second Ward alderman in 2001. She said she decided to run in the Fifth Ward because she saw some of the same problems she had noticed before at her new home.

“I felt people weren’t being heard,” Ester said. “There’s a sense that we’re not being listened to, and I feel the same in the Fifth Ward.”

Khuri, a graduate of Evanston Township High School who lives in Evanston, said he has noticed that the character of Evanston creates an environment that leads people to become committed to changing their city.

“There’s something about the community that draws people back to it,” Khuri said. “And when you’re involved in the community, there’s something about it that draws you into local politics.”

The Daily’s Kendra Marr contributed to this report.

Reach Breanne Gilpatrick at [email protected].