Aldermen: Fiske wins first ward

The watch parties for the two candidates for Evanston’s First Ward aldermanic race took place right down the street from each other. But considering the stark difference in atmosphere by the end of the night, they might as well have been miles apart.

Shortly after 8 p.m., Judy Fiske was declared the winner of the race, a tense rematch of the 2005 election that resulted in a lawsuit over alleged voter fraud at Northwestern. This year, Fiske said, was an entirely different game.

“I feel really humbled,” she said as she hugged attendees dining on thin crust pizza and wine at Dave’s Italian Kitchen. “Four years ago, Evanston was a completely different city. The challenges we’re facing (now) are real. Evanston is at a crossroads.”

Vito Brugliera, a resident of the 8th Ward 4th Ward, attended the party despite lacking an immediate connection to Fiske.

“I think Judy is more suited to civic involvement,” the NU alumnus said. “She is someone who is more aggressive in the positive sense.”

Just yards away, Cheryl Wollin’s supporters grew somber as precinct results trickled in. About 30 attendees put down their slices of margherita pizza from Gio, and grew quiet before the official result – a landslide victory for Fiske – was called.

“It’s hard to believe that so many people could have been bamboozled,” said Paul Brown, Wollin’s campaign treasurer. “I thought it might be close, but I had no idea it would be anything like this.”

Wollin said her controversial vote in support of the Church Street Tower and lack of student vote likely caused her loss.

“I voted my conscience on downtown development, and I believe that was the central issue,” she said. “And I don’t know what happened to NU students.”

In the last election, NU voters propelled Wollin’s victory. In the student-heavy sixth precinct, Wollin won 217-15 in 2005, but just 13-11 on Tuesday.

Their absence this year was upsetting, said Doris Rudy, a member of Wollin’s campaign committee.

“Four years ago, students came out in such a big way,” Rudy said. “We really wanted them to vote (again).”

Brittny Jones, a Weinberg junior, said students had a great deal invested in the aldermanic elections, even if they didn’t know it.

“Northwestern has to seek out Evanston’s approval on things that affect students directly, like sound permits and blue lights,” she said. “And if we have an alderman who’s not as kind to NU students (as Wollin was), it’s not going to work well for us.”

With the bitter aftermath of the 2005 race a constant topic in local discussion boards and newspapers, Fiske said she made a conscious effort to involve the student population. She also discussed further student-alderman partnerships, such as encouraging students to give their input in downtown development, and the possible use of Facebook to “keep an open dialogue with students.”

“I think the students will be pleased,” she said. “I’m eager to let them know that they’ll have a voice in the city government.”

Patrick Keenan-Devlin, an NU alumnus and former Associated Student Government president, said students have “forgotten” local politics, evidenced by the evening’s poor turnout.

“It’s disappointing that in the state that elected the president of the United States, people still aren’t engaged in politics,” he said. “Politics at the local level is just as important as at the state and national levels.”

Fiske shared her celebration with Jeanne Lindwall, who garnered only 8 percent of the vote in the mayoral race. She and Lindwall met during their stints on various community projects, and most attendees were friends and family members of Lindwall. Though sobered by her loss, Lindwall said she was happy to celebrate Fiske’s victory and “go back to her day job.”

“It’s a good day in Evanston regardless,” Lindwall said.

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Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Vito Brugliera was a resident of the 8th Ward. Brugliera actually lives in the 4th Ward. THE DAILY regrets the error.