Local women in politics mourn Clinton loss

Nora Shelly, City Editor

As the reality of a Donald Trump presidency began to sink in Wednesday, elected officials and leading women in the predominantly-Democratic city of Evanston lamented what could have been.

Based on polling and punditry, people across the country believed that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was poised to become the country’s first woman president-elect. As Evanston residents witnessed the results roll in Tuesday night, it quickly became clear that would not be the case.

“I’m stunned and just extremely disappointed,” Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said.

Revelle said she was “fearful” progress made under President Barack Obama would be lost in the next four years.

Since the real estate mogul announced his candidacy 18 months ago, he has been accused of sexual assault by at least eight women and started feuds with women journalists. In October, the campaign took a turn when the Washington Post published footage from 2005 of lewd remarks about grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without consent.

Former Evanston Mayor Lorraine H. Morton, who served as the city’s first black mayor and its second female mayor, said she was “not happy” with the election results and wasn’t so sure the president-elect would change his rhetoric when he takes office in January.

“By the time you get to be 70 years old, you are set in your ways,” she said. “You mean to tell me that somehow he is going to have a come-to-Jesus sort of feeling … and expect the people to love him only because he has gotten this position? I don’t think so.”

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said she was still processing the election results Wednesday afternoon but that not electing Clinton was a “missed opportunity” for the nation.

“If you think about that smart girl in the sixth grade who really did her homework and how admiring all of us were about that girl? That’s what Hillary is,” she said.

Being in Evanston on Election Night, Fiske said she felt like she was on an island.

“We’ve been lucky in Evanston. Our City Council is majority women and it has been for awhile,” she said. “I know Evanston will always do the right thing.”

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said in an email that the city will remain an inclusive place to live “regardless of who inhabits the White House.”

Jane Grover, former alderman from the 7th Ward, said the first call she made Wednesday morning was to her mother, who served in public office in Michigan.

“I am sad for the generation ahead of me, my mother’s generation, that may not live to see a woman serve as our president,” she said.

Grover and others remained hopeful about the future for women in politics. Revelle said she hopes young women won’t be discouraged by the “setback.”

“I hope that women, and young women in particular are not going to be discouraged by the experience of Hillary Clinton,” Revelle said.

In her concession speech Wednesday morning, Clinton said to women, “nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.”

“I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but some day someone will and hopefully sooner than we might think right now,” she said. “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

Grover said she was confident the future first woman president is alive today and was watching Clinton speak.

“She may be a Democrat or a Republican or from some third party that hasn’t taken shape yet, but she exists, and it will happen, and I hope i’m around to see that.”

Julia Jacobs contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @noracshelly