Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Fifth Ward candidate ready to tackle long-time problems

Politics is in Fifth Ward aldermanic candidate Patricia Brown’s blood.

For the first time in Evanston history, a mother and a daughter will simultaneously appear on the ballot for the April 5 election. Brown’s mother, Iris Johnson, is running for township supervisor.

"We didn’t plan this, but we figured we could build our campaign together," said Brown, a 43-year Evanston resident. "Together, we’ll make more of a difference."

The dual campaign demonstrates both candidates’ dedication to politics, Johnson said.

"Some people might look at it like a family value," said Johnson, who ran for Second Ward alderman in 1987.

In the Fifth Ward aldermanic race, Brown is up against Betty Ester, Delores Holmes, Charles Sheridan and Furman Sizemore.

Johnson said she discouraged her daughter from running in previous years because she wanted her to be ready for the challenge.

But with Ald. Joseph Kent’s (5th) decision not to seek re-election, Johnson said she believes the seat is wide open.

"She can be a role model for all the younger men and women to step out there," she said. "Older people tend to be more complacent."

Brown calls herself an underdog, but she said hard work and good campaigning will help her win.

"I don’t see this election as being overwhelming," Brown said. "I just see it as a way to contribute to my community."

In 1994 Brown, who received her bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1984 from Morgan State University in Maryland, left Evanston to spend seven years working in marketing for the American Bar Association in Chicago. She said her time away has been beneficial and give her a different perspective as alderman.

After volunteering for non-profit organizations and churches in Chicago, Brown said she is ready to represent Evanston’s Fifth Ward, which includes the western part of the city and some off-campus students.

Some opponents have claimed Brown is not involved enough with community issues, but she says she has been busy learning what issues are important to Evanston residents by going door to door and talking to constituents.

Evanston still has many of the problems she saw before she left for Chicago, she said.

"This time is an opportunity for change," she said.

Brown has dedicated her time to learning about problems with on- and off- campus safety. She said working for aldermanic candidates in Chicago taught her how to combat safety issues.

Brown wants to take additional steps to boost NU students’ safety. She said she wants to raise money for cameras in dangerous neighborhoods.

"I know there are the blue lights, but by the time someone jumps on you, it will be too late to hit the panic button," she said.

Brown will have to address a socioeconomically diverse community in the Fifth Ward — a challenge she said she is prepared to face. She said she wants to bring creative programs to Evanston neighborhoods, like skill-building workshops for the unemployed.

She also wants to bring more businesses into the Fifth Ward, an area of Evanston where few services are available within walking distance.

"We need to bring in nice environments like this so people can come together," said Brown, pointing to students talking over coffee in Panera Bread in downtown Evanston.

More service businesses in the Fifth Ward would bring in more jobs and alleviate poverty in areas where minorities make up the majority of residents, she said.

But there are some things Brown knows needs change — even without her experiences in Chicago. She wants to improve the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center at 1655 Foster St., a building that played a large role in her childhood.

Fifth Ward resident Ruby Pearson said she believes Brown will keep her promises.

"She’s an enthusiastic young woman," Pearson said. "She has a lot to offer."

Reach Stephanie Chen at [email protected].

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Fifth Ward candidate ready to tackle long-time problems