Council incumbent not afraid to stand alone

Breanne Gilpatrick

With a new city manager taking over and one-third of the Evanston City Council stepping down, many candidates in the April 5 city elections have been saying it’s time for a change.

But long-time alderman Edmund Moran (6th) says he’s already way ahead of them.

"I’ve been asking for change for quite a while," Moran said. "And I would say to those who have been advocating for change, I’ve been out there in front of them for some time."

Moran, who is running for his fifth term as Sixth Ward alderman, said he has been calling for increased civility and decreased reliance on block voting in the city council for years.

That hasn’t changed as he faces challengers Virginia Mann, Marty Norkett and Mark Tendam in the Sixth Ward race. Only the Fifth Ward race has more candidates.

Moran has been a Sixth Ward resident for about 30 years and an alderman for almost 15. In his time as alderman, Moran said he has tried to do what he thinks is best for the city.

"I’d say I’m less interested in promoting particular issues and particular interests," Moran said. "I’m more interested in promoting Evanston and the Sixth Ward."

But following this plan can be lonely. In recent years, Moran has received criticism for being in the minority on many council votes.

For example, in October, he was the only alderman to vote for further study of building a marina in southeast Evanston.

Politics and personality have taken precedence in decisions after a referendum cut the council’s size in half during the 1993 election, Moran said. That led to block voting, he said.

"I would never be a go-along Charlie to vote for what I thought wasn’t the best thing for Evanston," Moran said.

Sixth Ward resident Joan Cherry, who has worked with Moran on development issues, said he is an "independent voice on the council."

"It would be nice if he were in the majority, but that’s not his fault," Cherry said. "I’m quite unhappy with some of the things that majority has done in the past few years."

Moran said as an incumbent he can point to his record while campaigning.

"The other (candidates) can point to their life experiences and so forth, but it’s hard for them to say they’ve done things that have made people’s lives better in that context," he said.

Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) said even if he differs with Moran on council decisions, he and Moran have a "good disagreement."

"The key thing for me is not whether someone agrees with me, but whether they fight hard and they work hard," Jean-Baptiste said.

Lately, Moran’s efforts have centered on development on the Central Street, a Sixth Ward business district. At a packed meeting Feb. 28, he argued before constituents for ways to make the area more "pedestrian-friendly."

Sixth Ward resident Carol Balkcom said Moran works hard on issues, such as Central Street’s rezoning.

"He has been tireless in attending committee meetings — of committees that he’s not even on — and informing the people in his ward of all of the things that might impact us here," Balkcom said.

Moran’s efforts have extended to Northwestern, too. In 2003, he worked with then-Associated Student Government External Relations Chairwoman Jane Lee on plans for redrawing Evanston’s wards. The redistricting moved more than 550 students from the First Ward to the Seventh Ward.

Lee, who is now ASG’s president and a Weinberg senior, said Moran was an advocate not only for students but also residents.

"He works not only for his own ward, but for how all the wards of Evanston are working together," she said.

In the end, the large field of competitors will help make the race interesting, Moran said.

"All I know is you have to do your best and election day will come and the people will decide," he said.

Reach Breanne Gilpatrick at [email protected]

 

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