Election Guide 2013: Q&A with 5th Ward candidates Ald. Delores Holmes and Carlis Sutton

Jia You, City Editor

Residents in Evanston’s 5th Ward, including many NU students living off campus, will decide Tuesday between Ald. Delores Holmes and write-in candidate Carlis Sutton for the City Council race. Holmes is seeking re-election for her third term as an alderman. She has collaborated with the University to increase lighting in her ward. Sutton, a third-generation resident, is a retired teacher who taught at District 65 schools and Evanston Township High School. They spoke separately with The Daily about addressing violence, diversity and other campaign issues.

The Daily: There are many Northwestern students living in your ward. How would you serve them as citizens?

Holmes: I’ve been on campus and been to meetings that they’ve invited me to. I worked very hard to increase lighting because that’s been one of the issues. I tried very hard to make sure they live in safe housing … I’ve done everything that I know how to do. I try to be the alderman for everyone, not just for a particular population.

Sutton: The first thing I will tell them is there are plenty of units in the 5th Ward … There are opportunities in the 5th Ward where landlords can benefit from their presence. Also since our elderly are getting older, I’d like to see more students coming in to help them shovel snow and cut grass and to have that kind of interchange of ideas that students always bring.

The Daily: Evanston has lost three young men to gun violence since last fall. What should the city do to address the problem of street violence and crime?

Holmes: I think the city is doing a lot to address it. I mean it’s not just Evanston, we have issues all over the country where violence is involved. We are trying to provide jobs for youths that are not working. I’ve worked with the high school to make sure when kids come out of school they’ll have a ton of skills and get employed. I think we’re trying to provide more activities that kids wants to do — and make them more accessible. We’re trying to promote mentoring. I think we’ve had a variety of approaches to address the issue. The change is not going to happen overnight.

Sutton: There’s a direct correlation between the amount of violence and the lack of job opportunities for people, especially young black males … No education, no jobs. Together, that is a dangerous combination … The specific (factor) I’m looking at is the allocation of tax incremental financing funds. The allocation of TIF funds in this community seems to be more guided by the interests of developers, but the intent was to give them a tax break so that low-income citizens did not have to pay taxes for that year. The TIF units should be placed in areas all over the 5th Ward.

The Daily: How should underage drinking in the city be addressed, especially those incidents in off-campus housing?

Holmes: We can’t have people monitoring college kids all day. Just can’t. We have systems in place in terms of ID, things like that. For me, young people have got to take some responsibilities on themselves.

Sutton: I think a way to look after the students is that if they are not of drinking age, then there should be some strict violations placed on landlords who allow this to go on in their units. Also they should do more checks on the liquor stores.

The Daily: If elected, you and Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) would be the two African-American aldermen on City Council. Do you think the council does a good job addressing racial diversity and equality in the city?

Holmes: I think we do as good a job as any other organization in the community … I think Ald. Braithwaite and I try to try to speak not only for the African-American community but for the community overall in terms of the issue. Because what affects one area in terms of diversity affects all of us. We have to come together as a community and make sure people know what the issues are.

Sutton: We in Evanston advocate diversity. We don’t practice it … The percentage of black people in Evanston has decreased over the last two censuses. I don’t see any movement by the city of Evanston to stop that flow out.