Tisdahl questions mayoral candidate’s positivity, ability to work with people


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl attends a City Council meeting. Tisdahl expressed doubt that Ald. Brian Miller (9th), who announced his candidacy for mayor on Friday, is the best fit for the job.

Erica Snow, Assistant City Editor

Ald. Brian Miller’s (9th) campaign launch for Evanston mayor was met with concern from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl about his ability to work with others.

Miller announced his candidacy Friday with a platform aimed to reform city policy and streamline decision-making. He said, as mayor, he would address gun violence in the city and maintaining Evanston’s public facilities. Miller did not consult Tisdahl before announcing his candidacy, the two confirmed.

Tisdahl announced on Twitter in July she would not run for a third term as mayor.

Although Tisdahl maintained the council’s work has been “terrific,” Miller said the council could do more for Evanston residents. Tisdahl added she would prefer another candidate and was concerned about Miller’s ability to work with other people after a board member of the Mental Health Board allegedly resigned after a disagreement about funding with Miller.

“He’s the only alderman I’ve ever heard of — certainly the only one while I’ve been mayor — who’s caused a (board member) to resign, and he’s running on a reform platform of some sort,” Tisdahl said. “He hasn’t certainly talked to me about it.”

Miller said he never spoke directly to the board member before she stepped down but apologized to her after. Miller said the board member agreed with a Mental Health Board recommendation to give $30,000 to an outside organization to address hoarding. Miller said he disagreed with the recommendation because he thought it would be ineffective and Evanston city staff could better manage the money.

Miller said he didn’t understand why the board member resigned and maintains he works well with others.

“Our job as a City Council is to make decisions,” Miller said. “Sometimes they’re hard decisions. Sometimes people aren’t happy about those decisions. If someone is unhappy with a decision, and that means I don’t work well with them because I make that decision, I hope to actually talk to that individual and tell them where I’m coming from in an honest and straightforward manner.”

Tisdahl appointed Miller as alderman in May 2015 because he was “ready,” she told the Daily. She added that the mayor’s role interacting with community members, Northwestern administration and students means the next mayor must be able to engage with them.

“You’d have to be a bit more positive as mayor,” Tisdahl said. “As mayor, your job is to appoint people to boards and commissions … and obviously you need to be encouraging and positive about their work if you’re going to get people to volunteer.”

Tisdahl also disagreed with the reform-focused platform and said she wanted the next mayor to focus on affordable housing, healthcare and sustainability.

Miller stood by his platform, adding that he and Tisdahl have had “policy disagreements” and he wants to allocate more resources to lessening gun violence primarily. He said he wanted to reach decisions as a council faster, be more transparent to the public and continue to improve the collaborative relationship between Northwestern and Evanston.

“I would like to set that agenda to do those things that I don’t think we’re currently doing well,” Miller said. “I think the mayor disagrees. She thinks we’re doing enough. I disagree. So in order for me to pursue that agenda, that reform agenda, I felt that I had to run for mayor.”

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