Evanston officials prepare for a Trump presidency


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

A crowd attends a post-election interfaith rally at Fountain Square on Sunday. Evanston’s government and political leaders are urging a recommitment to Evanston ideals after Donald Trump’s election.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

As the realities of a President Donald Trump continue to sink in, some Evanston leaders have pledged they’ll do everything they can to limit the impacts in the city.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said cuts to the Affordable Care Act and potential losses to funding due to the city’s status as a sanctuary city or are concerning. Tisdahl is advocating for the city to solidify the portion of city code addressing its status as a sanctuary city.

Trump has proposed cutting off federal funding from sanctuary cities. Tisdahl said the city could lower it from the $3.3 million they received this year.

“I don’t want to lose that money, and I don’t want to abandon our residents who are immigrants,” she said. “Once we tighten up our language, I think there’s strength in numbers, and I’m going to ask some other mayors if they are going to consider it as well.”

City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said because none of Trump’s policies have been enacted, it is hard to tell any potential impacts. However, he said future federal funding is a concern.

The city has done well in terms of federal funding under the Obama administration, he said. The city will likely be in a “less strategic” position moving forward, he said.

“We’ve been very fortunate with a Democrat president from Chicago and senior Democrat legislature in the Congress,” he said. “Obviously there are still needs, and we will still compete, but I think from a political standpoint, it’s clear that the needs of other parts of the country will likely be serviced before they’re serviced in Evanston.”

There are also concerns over environmental issues moving forward. Trump tweeted in 2012 that climate change was a hoax made up by China, and recently appointed someone who denies climate change to his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), the former president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, said it would be on individual people and cities to ensure environmental goals are met. Revelle said the current situation reminded her of 2005, when Evanston signed onto the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement after getting frustrated that the country was not agreeing to the Kyoto Protocol.

The agreement pledged Evanston to meet similar standards recommended for the U.S. in the protocol. That sort of independent action may be needed in the future, Revelle said.

“It’s clearly distressing to think that we’ll have a climate denier in the White House, but that makes our action at the local level all the more important,” she said. “There’s a lot we can each do individually in the decisions we make about how we get around town and the food we eat, and what we can do to be more energy efficient.”

Bobkiewicz said the federal government does not have a large impact on many day-to-day operations in Evanston. A loss of the Affordable Care Act would affect residents who relied on it for coverage, but community resources would allow the Evanston to alleviate some of the impact.

There is an emotional component to Trump’s victory, Bobkiewicz said, considering the outcome was shocking for many Evanston residents. Cook County clerk David Orr reported more than 90 percent of Evanston voters cast their ballot for Hillary Clinton.

“Mr. Trump being elected president, I think has a lot of people very concerned about what it will mean as a community,” he said. “From an Evanston standpoint, we want to make sure our residents understand that we’re going to stick by the policies and the values that make Evanston, Evanston.”

Tisdahl, whose final term as mayor ends in April, said she will continue to be politically involved throughout Trump’s presidency at the national and local level. For now, though, the results of the election still felt “devastating,” she said.

“He doesn’t believe in government, and government takes care of people who are the most vulnerable, and he doesn’t believe in any of that,” she said. “It’s just a nightmare, and I hope I’ll wake up and it will all be not true.”

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Twitter: @noracshelly