Evanston Mayor Tisdahl discusses campaign, future for city and campus

Chris Kirk

Mayor-elect Elizabeth Tisdahl met with 13 NU students in the Communications Residential College to
discuss plans for her tenure and town-gown relations. Sean Collins Walsh/The Daily Northwestern

In her first appearance at Northwestern since winning the Evanston mayoral election, Mayor-elect Elizabeth Tisdahl came to speak — but only 13 NU students showed up.

The mayor-elect discussed her campaign and the low student turnout in the local elections to a group of students in the Communications Residential College. Current Mayor Lorraine Morton told her there had never been more mudslinging in an Evanston mayoral campaign, Tisdahl said.

The low student turnout in the local election disappointed her, but she did not, when asked by an attendee, offer ideas for improving it.

“I throw that question right back to you,” she said.

Those in attendance did not have the answer but they said they hoped her inauguration would begin an era of improved relations between NU and the city.

“I think everyone’s looking forward to pressing the reset button on the Evanston-NU relationship,” Weinberg freshman Ben Goldberg said.

Tisdahl told students the university should make direct financial contributions to the city and cited other universities that do, like Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a nonprofit, NU is exempt from property taxes, yet benefits from the city’s fire services.

Tisdahl will talk to future University President Morton Schapiro to propose a task force comprising members of both the university and Evanston to develop a town-gown relations model, she said.

She also said the NU community should play a part in the city’s attempts at controlling guns.

“I think the law school should be volunteering to do things such as defend us,” she said. In 2008, the City Council revoked a ban on handguns to avoid a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association, which claimed the ban violated a recent Supreme Court decision and the Second Amendment.

Tisdahl also said she supported the proposal to build 10 wind turbines in the lake as a way to fulfill her pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 13 percent by 2012. She would like to see them built off NU’s shoreline because students would be less likely to find them ugly, she said.

“If we put them anywhere else on the lake, we’ll have citizens saying that we’ve ruined the view,” she said.

Medill Prof. Roger Boye proposed a group of NU students to advise the mayor after she discussed the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Group, a body she is forming at Evanston Township High School.

The mayor-elect said she supports the idea but is uncertain whether enough NU students would be willing to serve on such a committee.

“Call it an internship,” SESP sophomore Nathalie Rayter said.

“That’s clever,” Tisdahl said. “I like that one.”

Tisdahl will take office May 11, replacing the retiring mayor, Morton.

Video by Chris Kirk

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