Gaspard kicks off mayoral campaign over a month before primary


(Christian Surtz /The Daily Northwestern) Mayoral candidate Gary Gaspard formally kicks off his campaign at Curts Cafe, 2922 Central St., on Sunday. Gaspard pledged to pursue a local income tax for high-level incomes at the event.

Syd Stone, Reporter

Former Evanston Township supervisor Gary Gaspard said he would pursue a local income tax for high-level incomes at his campaign kick-off event on Sunday.

Gaspard shared his campaign platform in front of 25 supporters and community members at Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St.

At the event, Gaspard outlined his campaign platform, emphasizing his interest in youth violence prevention and improving police-community relations. He also said he would try to introduce programming for low-income citizens in the Fifth Ward. Gaspard said he would also seek to set up a tax-increment finance district in the area.

He emphasized that as mayor, he would support “marginalized voters” and the people that the other candidates “don’t care about.”

“I want to be an inspirational leader, an inspirational mayor for everyone in Evanston — not only for whites, blacks, Hispanics — but for everyone. I am one of you,” he said. “If you feel that you are marginalized and discriminated against, I am for you.”

He said local police officers should have better training and a better relationship with the Evanston community. Gaspard also spoke about gentrification in Evanston.

“Evanston is full of high rises, but … they are too expensive,” he said.

Gaspard served as Evanston Township supervisor in 2013 but resigned in October of that year, citing an unanticipated time commitment. He currently works as a full-time faculty adviser at Northeastern Illinois University. Gaspard teaches social work research and social welfare policy. His research focuses on school attendance, gang disaffiliation and conflict resolution.

One of Gaspard’s former students from NIU, Micah Hibler, attended the event and spoke about Gaspard as his former policy and research professor.

“He is an optimist, and he has a positive momentum to him that just will not stop,” he said. “I support him because he is passionate, truthful, honest and he has the best interest of the people at heart.”

Jeanette Alfred, Gaspard’s friend of more than 20 years, spoke at the event about his strength and resilience as a leader. She said Gaspard would be a great mayor but could possibly “ruffle some feathers” in the process.

Gaspard is one of five candidates in the mayoral election, which has a primary set for Feb. 28. Unless one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates will move on to a consolidated election in April.

Gaspard’s candidacy was challenged twice since he announced his candidacy in November over claims his nominating petitions were improperly filed. The electoral board overturned the objections, allowing Gaspard to appear on the ballot.

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Twitter: @SydStone16