Mayor-elect Steve Hagerty addresses potential conflicts of interest
April 19, 2017
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Mayor-elect Steve Hagerty said he would “evaluate” maintaining his seat on the board of First Bank & Trust after some city officials and Evanston residents raised concerns at a Monday Rules Committee meeting.
Hagerty, who owns an Evanston-based emergency consulting business, receives a flat “stipend” for being on the bank’s board of directors, a three-year term he began in 2014. He is also on the board of Youth & Opportunity United, an Evanston-based youth development organization.
“I need to look at my involvement in all these different boards,” Hagerty said. “A) would I really have time to continue supporting those organizations and b) could my involvement in those organizations present a real conflict of interest?”
Hagerty said whatever decision he makes would also take into consideration the “vital” role First Bank & Trust plays in the community as a “strong, local community bank.” He added that he was looking into ways to mitigate potential conflicts and pledged to disclose any outstanding commitments before entering office.
City manager Wally Bobkiewicz said Hagerty would have to make his own decision about which of his other activities may constitute a conflict. Though the city does have an ethics ordinance that prohibits “public officers” from rendering services that “would to a reasonable person” appear to create a conflict, Bobkiewicz said the rules are written with latitude for individuals to make their own determination.
At a meeting Monday night, Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) and Ald. Brian Miller (9th) both warned against a possible conflict of interest for the mayor-elect. Because the city engages in business deals with First Bank & Trust, Miller said, Hagerty could come into conflict with his board position.
“This isn’t something we should take lightly because there’s a variety of instances when the City of Evanston does business with First Bank & Trust,” Miller said on Monday. “This is a serious issue that we really need to be aware of in the next coming years.”
Earlier this week, Illinois candidates released new reports that included finance information through this month’s municipal elections. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Hagerty raised more than $210,000 — more than 50 percent of which he loaned himself — and spent roughly $190,000.
Hagerty defended his sizeable spending as an “investment in Evanston” and stressed that no single strategy could explain his victory. Instead, he highlighted a “litany” of factors that could have contributed to his success: canvassing door to door, meet and greets at train stations and robust social media.
“Some people will spin a story that I won because of the money that was put into this campaign,” Hagerty said. “(But) money alone does not buy you an election. The voters in Evanston are pretty discerning people and I don’t think they can be bought off by any amount of money.”
Ald. Mark Tendam (6th), who lost the election by 115 votes, raised more than $63,000 — of which more than 40 percent he loaned himself — and spent roughly $54,000. Earlier this month, Tendam told The Daily he was disappointed by the election results and attributed his slim loss in part to less funding.
“With a fraction of what (Hagerty) spent we were able to be competitive and come up almost neck and neck,” Tendam told The Daily earlier this month. “Evanston listened to someone with more experience and more or less half of the voters weren’t swayed by the amount of money.”
The new mayor and city officials will assume their positions May 8.
This story has been updated to clarify comments from Steve Hagerty.