Editorial: The Daily Northwestern endorses Mark Tendam for Evanston mayor

With only one day until Evanston’s mayoral election, The Daily Northwestern Editorial Board endorses Ald. Mark Tendam (6th) to succeed Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. After eight years as 6th Ward alderman, Tendam has gathered extensive experience working in local politics and has tackled a wide range of issues affecting the Evanston community.

Though both Tendam and his opponent Steve Hagerty seem to prioritize similar issues, Tendam’s time in City Council demonstrates substantial, tangible experience. For instance, his role in the overhaul of the Affordable Housing Ordinance helped create more affordable and sustainable living options, and he has voiced the need to stand up against federal cuts to Evanston, a sanctuary city.

Tendam has also demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental issues — such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing more sustainable construction projects — many of which are listed on his campaign website. With the environment at the forefront of both local and national politics, especially in light of executive orders rolling back climate change protections, Tendam’s explicit mission to create a greener Evanston is vital.

During the primary election on Feb. 28, Tendam won about 20 percent of the vote, which was divided among five mayoral candidates. Hagerty led the race with about 44 percent, and in addition to Tisdahl’s endorsement, has received the support of former mayors Jay Lytle and Lorraine Morton. Indeed, Hagerty is a reputable candidate, with business experience in the public sector and ideas that overlap with Tendam’s, such as support for the District 65 referendum and affordable housing.

Nonetheless, The Daily supports Tendam because he engages with Evanston issues in a genuine, nuanced manner that we hope to see in our next mayor. He has posed thoughtful and pertinent questions regarding topics that many Northwestern students care about, including racial disparity and LGBTQ rights.

Earlier this year, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill released a study on racial disparity in traffic stop outcomes, concluding that the Evanston Police Department had the highest black-to-white post-stop search rate of 132 law agencies across 16 states. Tendam responded with a nuanced statement that expressed pride in Evanston’s diverse police force and recent crime reductions, while also criticizing racially targeted policing and expressing hope for further improvements. Hagerty, on the other hand, issued a response five days after his opponent. In his statement, Hagerty supported critical questions Tendam had posed about Evanston police, but did not provide any new ideas of his own.

Furthermore, Hagerty’s significant campaign expenses demonstrate a disconnect with the Evanston community. His campaign is set to become one of the most expensive in the city’s history, having spent more than $80,000 between mid-August and the end of 2016. Though Hagerty has said his investments are due to his relatively lower name recognition, we believe a candidate in touch with the community would not need such unprecedented spending to garner support. During the same time period as Hagerty, Tendam had only spent $2,323.

Both Hagerty and Tendam’s campaign sites list issues of diversity and inclusion. But Tendam’s past policies and actions have shown he has the experience necessary to tackle these challenges. Potentially the first openly gay and Jewish mayor, Tendam has won the support of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) as a candidate who “will maintain a resolute commitment to equality and inclusivity for all Evanstonians.” His experience on City Council provides proof that he is dedicated to the aforementioned matters: racial disparity, affordable housing and LGBTQ rights. During his time on City Council, he voiced support for the creation of an LGBTQ police liaison and was involved with efforts to improve spousal benefits in civil union relationships.

The Daily stands with Schakowsky, former mayoral candidates Gary Gaspard and Jeff Smith, and LGBTQ organization Equality Illinois in endorsing Mark Tendam for mayor. We are often described as a progressive city, and we need a mayor who will act on it.

This piece represents the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of The Daily Northwestern. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members or Editorial Board members of The Daily Northwestern.