Evanston Democrats hold vote on candidate endorsements


Jeffrey Wang/Daily Senior Staffer

The Democratic Party of Evanston held an endorsement meeting on Sunday. The tally of votes will be released tomorrow, officials said.

Billy Kobin, Reporter

In light of numerous contested races, the Democratic Party of Evanston decided to break with tradition and ask its members to vote on who the organization should endorse in Evanston’s contested elections, offering an option to not to endorse at all.

The organization hosted an endorsement meeting Sunday for members to make these decisions. Eamon Kelly, Evanston’s Democratic committeeman, said the organization does not typically endorse candidates in municipal elections due to the fact that those races are non-partisan. However, due to the recent elections at the national and state levels, the group wanted to provide guidance to voters participating at the local level, Kelly said.

“We recognized that local government is really going to be the point of the sphere both in continuing to advance progressive policies and in resisting the agenda of the alt-right out in Washington,” Kelly said. “We thought it was really important to get together as a group and make a decision as a group if we should endorse and whom (to endorse).”

Results of the endorsement votes for each position will be posted Monday morning on the group’s website.

The endorsement meeting, attended by about 200 people, was held at Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., and featured brief speeches from the five mayoral candidates as well as the candidates for the six contested aldermanic positions. Devon Reid, who is running for the city clerk position against current City Clerk Rodney Greene, also gave a brief speech.

Current members of DPOE could fill out forms at the meeting stating which candidate they think the organization should endorse in each contested race. There was also a “no endorsement” option for each race. If more than two-thirds of voting members agree on an endorsement for a candidate or vote to not endorse, then DPOE will follow suit, Kelly said.

Ginny Darakjian, president of the DPOE, told The Daily members also voted on whether or not the DPOE should support the upcoming property tax referendum that will be placed on the April municipal ballot and would help Evanston/Skokie School District 65 combat a projected $114.4 million deficit by fiscal year 2025.

Candidates in each race also completed a questionnaire in advance of the meeting that asked questions such as why they are running and what they would focus on if elected. The responses were distributed in packets to attendees at the meeting and also posted online.

Darakjian said numerous members approached the organization’s Board of Directors over the past few months about endorsing candidates.

“We thought actually with so many people running for the mayoral position that it might be really helpful to give our membership an opportunity to hear from the candidates directly and then make up their own mind,” Darakjian said. “It’s a new step for us but one we wanted to take only with the mandate from our membership.”

The meeting and endorsement vote is a sign of the healthy state of democracy in Evanston, said Michelle Jordan, the finance and development director for DPOE’s board of directors. Jordan said Evanston will continue to support and protect its citizens regardless of what is happening at the federal and state levels.

“Evanston will always have people looking out for those who are unable to protect themselves,” Jordan said.

In addition to the mayoral and city clerk positions, contested races are being held for the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th Ward aldermanic positions. Early voting for the Feb. 28 mayoral and 5th Ward aldermanic primaries continues now through Feb. 27. The general election for all races is April 4.

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