Mayoral candidates look ahead to general election


Daily file photos by Allie Goulding

Businessman Steve Hagerty and Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) speak Feb. 7 at a mayoral debate. The two candidates have started to shift the focus of their campaigns toward next month’s general election.

David Fishman, Assistant City Editor

Businessman Steve Hagerty and Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) have begun to shift the focus of their mayoral campaigns toward next month’s general election, rallying additional volunteers, raising money and working to differentiate themselves from their opponent.

While neither campaign has settled on a definitive campaign strategy, both teams said they would focus on wooing supporters of the three other primary candidates and sharing more detailed policy plans at future forums.

In Tuesday’s primary, Hagerty won roughly 44 percent of the vote, with Tendam carrying about 20 percent. Both candidates said they intended to review precinct-specific data to see where they could most improve.

Hagerty said he looked forward to detailing a “broad array of issues” to voters during one-on-one forums in the general election. In the primary, where he was competing against four other candidates, he said he had not been able to entirely make his case.

“When you have four people in a race there are a lot of different perspectives” Hagerty said. “When it’s just two people running it’s clearer how each candidate is trying to define himself and possibly define the other.”

Since the two candidates are ideologically similar — both have prioritized affordable housing, economic development and youth empowerment — they must look elsewhere to stand out.

Both candidates have experience with government, but Tendam said his opponent’s work has been largely in the “for-profit” sector. Hagerty has worked in emergency consulting for most of his life and owns an Evanston-based firm with more than 100 employees.

“The city is a business, but we’re not a profit business. We can’t pick and choose our clients; we serve everybody equally,” Tendam said. “You don’t get to pick your colleagues on council. They are chosen by localized residents and you don’t always get the people that you may want to work.”

But Hagerty said his consulting experience would serve as a “huge well” from which he will draw ideas to improve the city.

“I am a better candidate for mayor because I have been committed throughout my entire professional career, including my education, in the area of improving the public sector,” he said. “I am a very strong leader. That is recognized by many throughout this community.”

Virginia Mann, a Tendam supporter running for his seat as 6th Ward alderman, said voters’ perceptions of Hagerty had been largely shaped by advertisements. During the primary, Hagerty contributed about $90,000 to his campaign while Tendam contributed roughly $15,000, according to data from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Mann added that Tendam would likely pick up votes from supporters of the other three primary candidates — none of whom have announced an intention to endorse.

“Tendam is just the kind of person we need as mayor,” Mann said. “He’s got a very calm personality and an ability to work with a wide variety of people and bring everyone together to find solutions that work.”

But Sean van Dril, a McCormick senior who works for Hagerty, said the primary illustrated broad support for his candidate’s message. He said Hagerty had a slew of “pragmatic skills” that set him apart from Tendam and “uniquely” qualified him for the position.

“Evanston is such a progressive city generally, so ideologically the differences are very nuanced,” van Dril said. “What separates Steve from Mark Tendam is … his ability to carry out effective government.”

Evanston residents will decide between the two candidates on April 4, in addition to voting in races for city clerk and six of the nine wards.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @davidpkfishman