Vote Evanston campaign attempts to engage students in local election


Daily file photo by Meghan White

A student votes in November’s elections. ASG and the Center for Civic Engagement are hoping to increase student turnout for April 9’s local elections.

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant In Focus Editor

With Evanston’s April 9 City Council election growing closer, Northwestern’s Associated Student Government and the Center for Civic Engagement are ramping up efforts to register students to vote.

The election is contested in the 1st Ward, where Edward Tivador is challenging incumbent Ald. Judy Fiske (1st). Students living in housing west of Sheridan Road and south of Colfax Street can vote in this election, in which issues such as lighting, off-campus safety, the over-occupancy laws, downtown entertainment and NU-Evanston relations are at stake.

Steven Monacelli, ASG’s vice president for community relations, has been leading ASG’s campaign to register NU students to vote in Evanston. He said he hopes the Vote Evanston campaign will promote student turnout on election day and educate people on the issues in question.

“City councilmen have a lot of power over local affairs, particularly issues that affect students,” the Communication senior and former Daily staffer said.

Monacelli explained these elections typically go uncontested, but this year, the 1st Ward has two candidates for the position. He said the City Council has complete control over lighting, an important safety issue for students.

“A councilman serves a term of four years,” Monacelli said. “That’s the entirety of a student’s time at Northwestern.”

Weinberg junior Jane Gilmore serves as ASG director of campus safety and organized both the on-campus and off-campus light walks last fall, when University and city officials walked around campus and the surrounding area in Evanston at night and identified areas where lighting needed to be improved. Gilmore, who has been engaged in the Vote Evanston campaign and plans to vote herself in April, said Fiske did not respond to her requests to come to the light walk in October.

“The mayor came to the light walk, and Fiske did not from my records,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore said Tivador has “aligned with student safety.” Tivador told The Daily on Monday he would advocate for proper lighting. He also proposed a “safe haven” concept, where Evanston residents would place stickers on their windows that would alert students they were willing to assist them after excessive alcohol consumption.

Monacelli said the Vote Evanston campaign is not affiliated with either candidate, and in his work as an ASG executive board member, he cannot endorse a particular candidate. But outside his official capacity, Monacelli has taken to Facebook to voice his support for Tivador. On Feb. 28, he posted publicly that he was volunteering for Tivador in his free time and helped design the candidate’s Facebook page.

“Ed would make Evanston a better place, for both long-term residents and students alike,” Monacelli wrote.

It remains to be seen how many students will actually turn out to the polls, even those located on campus at Patten Gymnasium and Parkes Hall. Weinberg senior Angelica Kielbus said she has lived in Evanston for four years but has never registered to vote here because she still considers her hometown more permanent.

“I’m planning on leaving Evanston soon,” she said. “It just doesn’t make sense for me.”

Medill junior Katie Gronendyke said she didn’t realize the election was coming up.

“When you’re a student at Northwestern, it doesn’t always feel like the school is part of Evanston,” she said.