Evanston officials encourage Latinx representation on city boards


Melanie Lust/The Daily Northwestern

Mayor Steve Hagerty and community members at a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Tuesday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Hagerty met with Latinx community members to engage with them on issues.

Melanie Lust, Reporter

Evanston officials encouraged Latinx community members to apply for city boards and discussed Latinx issues at an information session Thursday.

In an effort to increase representation in the town’s political body, Mayor Steve Hagerty and Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson spoke about the importance of diversity and explained the application process for city boards. The event, hosted at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, also honored Hispanic Heritage Month, according to the city’s website.

“I want boards and commissions to be representative of Evanston,” Hagerty said. “We recognize that our boards are not reflecting that diversity.”

Other speakers, including police sergeant Tony Correa, addressed fears in Evanston’s Latinx community as the federal government cracks down on illegal immigration. He said police are working to increase their role in protecting Latinx residents.

There are currently no Latinx people on Evanston’s City Council, though Evanston’s population is 11.5 percent Latinx, according to a 2017 American Community Survey. The population is only increasing — in 2010, Latinx people only comprised nine percent of residents.

“We have responsibilities with maintaining constant and consistent communication with the Latino community,” Correa told The Daily. “We are hearing their needs, bringing those needs to the police department, providing them resources, providing them a voice.”

The city has said it will support immigrants in Evanston, both documented and undocumented. In 2017, then-mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl affirmed Evanston’s status as a sanctuary city, which Hagerty has upheld since he took office in 2017.

This summer, after President Donald Trump authorized thousands of deportations across the country, Hagerty released a statement that reiterated his promise not to assist Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers in the event of a raid. However, ongoing ICE raids have not reached Evanston.

“I want to make sure that people in this community know that you shouldn’t fear,” Hagerty said at the event. “We are a welcoming city. We are not looking to turn people into ICE.”

At the forum, city officials also discussed the 2020 Census. Earlier this summer, the Trump administration attempted to add a citizenship question to the Census, which he backed off on in July.

Richardson emphasized that she wants to ensure all immigrants feel comfortable completing the Census.

Beyond the Census, she said city officials need to continue their concerted effort to welcome Latinx residents, so they can feel inclined to join boards and committees.

“The people are not just going to go to a website and download an application (for city boards) and fill it out if they don’t feel that they’re part of the community,” Richardson said. “This effort is going to take time, but events like this are a way for us to continue to try to increase that diversity.”

Evanston Latinx leaders have planned several community outreach events in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends on Oct. 15. On Thursday afternoon, the city government hosted its fourth annual Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon.

Correa said it’s the city’s responsibility to include Latinx people at a time where many fear persecution from government officials.

“We’re trying to say to the local government that there’s a community out there that we’re not engaging,” Correa said. “And by not engaging them, we’re alienating them.”

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