Fischl eyes 2013 mayoral bid

Susan Du

Tom Fischl has not started preparing for his 2013 mayoral run yet, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing on his mind.

The 50-year-old small business owner said he is considering challenging Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl in 2013, citing widespread economic issues in the city he’s called home all his life.

However, Fischl said the mayoral election is too far in the future to start campaigning. In the meantime, he said he is trying to jumpstart the Evanston Small Business Association, an organization he began in 1998 to provide an advocacy voice for small business owners.

In preparation for 2013, however, he said he has repeatedly spoken to Mayor Tisdahl and City Council members about his concerns with the city’s finances.

Daily: What major points would you campaign on? What are your major concerns with how Evanston is functioning now and what would you change?

Fischl: Evanston is in such deep financial trouble. It is so bad. My first approach is to stop the bleeding. I’ve been screaming for 12 years about what (City Council) been doing. They made some really bad decisions and really bad forecasting for pensions, and every year the taxes go up and up and up. My property taxes are $1,000 a month and it’s just unaffordable. It’s hurting housing market and businesses. And also coming up with solutions. The first thing to do is to acknowledge we have a mess that’s unsustainable and also what’s the plan.

Daily: And do you have a plan?

Fischl: I have many, many ideas and one of them is working with Northwestern University. One of the issues 10 years ago with (Evanston Small Business Association) is that we were very disappointed with the contention between the town and gown that was festered by the city council. There were aldermen advocating that the University should pay us $6 million a year or we wouldn’t approve this… It was horrible. It was embarrassing.

Daily: How would you work with NU?

Fischl: The business community knows the economic engine of the (city) is Northwestern University. And so here they have all these resources – one of the top business management schools on the face of the earth – but do we sit down the professors and get their suggestions?

Daily: How do you feel about the mayor’s proposal for eliminating jail time for people possessing marijuana of less than 10 grams?

Fischl: Mixed emotions. I agree with (Tisdahl’s) angle that a kid having his life ruined because of an incident five years down the road… I agree with that, but that’s not why she’s doing it. They need the money. See if a kid gets arrested for pot, they go through the judicial system and if there’re any fines, that’s in the courts. If the city can issue tickets, they get to keep the income in town. I personally think it has more to do with revenue generating than concern for 18-year-olds.

Daily: So what’s the next step for you now?

Fischl: If nobody steps up (to be mayor), I feel like I have to. I have no desire to be mayor. I’d rather have a root canal without anesthesia. But you know I’m ex-military and I can’t just sit back and watch. This is such a great town with such great potential. We’re failing for all the wrong reasons. We have an unbelievable economic engine with Northwestern. We’re not part of the global economy problem. We used to be the cradle of headquarters. We used to have many major headquarters in Evanston but we drove them out with taxes and regulations. We used to have many small businesses, but we drove them out and replaced them with big chain stores subsidized by tax dollars.

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