Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) and challenger Lee Cabot (Kellogg ‘86) debated town-gown relations, Sheridan Road safety and communication with residents during a 1st Ward aldermanic forum Tuesday.
The forum, hosted by Associated Student Government and moderated by The Daily, focused on issues and policies that could directly impact students living in the ward, which is bordered by Sheridan Road to the east. Part of Northwestern’s campus is located in the 1st Ward, including Allison, Shepard, 1838 Chicago, Foster-Walker Complex and the sorority quad.
During the forum, Cabot and Fiske debated whether Cabot’s current position a program assistant in the Master of Product Design and Development Management at NU posed a conflict of interest. Cabot said her position would not be an issue because she is currently removed from any policy decision making within the institution, she said, and is unaffected by any decisions that may impact the University.
“I am much more impacted by being a resident in the ward and having the effects of any property taxes increased or property value changes or any encroachment by the University into the ward,” she said.
Fiske challenged her on the basis of the City of Evanston Code of Ethics regarding conflict of interest. Fiske said she felt the city’s Board of Ethics would rule against Cabot voting on any measure related to the University, limiting Cabot’s ability to represent a large portion of her constituency.
“You would have to go out and find another alderman to advocate for you and this to me is absolutely impossible, to say to residents and students that you have now just lost your voice in the council,” Fiske said. “You can’t do that.”
But Cabot said she believes her involvement with Northwestern could be a benefit for residents in the 1st Ward, especially students. She said her knowledge of how the University works and experience in working with its officials when she was president of Foundation 65, an educational organization that supports schools in District 65, will help her as an alderman.
The candidates also clashed on the issue of safety on Sheridan Road. Cabot agreed with a decision to widen Sheridan Road, keeping the four traffic lanes and adding bike lanes.
Fiske, however, said a three-lane road with a safety median and bike lanes would be safer for students. She said the wider road would lead to a longer crossing distance for students and argued it is impossible to stop students from jaywalking Sheridan Road, which has been cited as a common concern.
“The idea is not to force people not to cross but to make the crossing safer,” she said.
Fiske and Cabot both urged students to turn out to vote in the April election, considering only 87 votes were collected on campus during the 1st Ward election in 2013. Fiske said students are members of the 1st Ward community and should participate in neighborhood events. Cabot also said students should vote for the chance to get their voices heard.
SESP sophomore Michael Deneroff, who helped organize the event, said he is looking for a candidate who will closely collaborate with students.
“In the next 1st Ward alderman we’re looking for a candidate who is willing to work with Northwestern and reach out specifically to the students and just be receptive of questions and opportunities that may arise,” he said.
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