4th ward aldermanic candidate Diane Goldring emphasizes increasing affordable housing and participatory democracy


Courtesy of Diane Goldring

Diane Goldring is running for 4th ward Alderwoman in the 2021 Municipal Elections. Her platform surrounds increasing affordable housing, prioritizing equitable policy, and improving participatory democracy.

Jorja Siemons, Reporter

For Evanston native Diane Goldring (Kellogg ‘90) running to be 4th Ward alderperson is all about listening.

“I am very eager to have discussions with a wide range of residents as to what their issues are,” Goldring said. “There are so many smart people who live here that have solutions to what seem like really intractable problems.”

If elected, Goldring will represent Evanston’s central ward, which boasts socio-economic diversity in its patchwork of businesses, homes and community centers. Incumbent Ald. Donald Wilson and Jonathan Nieuwsma, former Citizens’ Greener Evanston president, are also vying for the position.

With a platform prioritizing human and social services, equity-minded policies, and affordable housing, Goldring said her recent work as director of client support at an internet company prepares her to be an effective representative.

“My whole job was listening to people and problem-solving,” she said.

Goldring also has a background in banking, and holds a master’s degree in finance and nonprofit management from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

In the late 1990s, Goldring raised over $40,000 for Chicago youth organizations as founder and president of Bucktown 5k Run and Walk. She also founded Step Up For Youth, Evanston’s lakefront race, in 2016. Goldring currently serves on the board of Evanston CASE, a special education advocacy nonprofit, and previously volunteered with Joining Forces for Affordable Housing.

Over the past few decades, Goldring said she has witnessed a loss of economic and racial diversity in the city.

“It’s been really hard for me to watch as the city has gotten way more expensive and people are moving out,” Goldring said. “In a city with such rich resources, nobody should go hungry or unhoused.”

Goldring said the first step to addressing Evanston’s housing crisis is assessing community needs. While an Affordable Housing Steering Committee is responsible for developing the city’s official Affordable Housing Plan, the group has not met since March 2020.

Goldring said she is researching which strategies will most benefit Evanston residents looking for housing. Possibilities include requiring developers to contribute to an affordable housing fund that in turn subsidizes costs for families, or, alternatively, calling developers to designate a certain number of affordable units in each development.

Recently, Goldring has focused her attention on the proposed mixed use building to be constructed on the current Vogue Fabrics site in the 4th ward. The development, for which the Plan Commission unanimously recommended approval, requires the construction of a 5-story, 120-unit rental building with 3,750 square feet of ground level retail space.

To educate her constituents about the project, Goldring published a summary of the Nov. 11 Design and Project Review committee meeting on her campaign’s Facebook page. She highlighted resident questions, as well as her own concern about the affordable housing deficit.

Goldring said while the developer meets the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, the project’s identification as a “missing middle” project aimed to appeal to middle income families is deceiving. Though the inclusionary units include 5 one bedroom apartments and 1 two bedroom apartment, the majority of the units are studio apartments, which do not easily accommodate families.

When the stay-at-home order began in mid-March, Goldring became involved in the senior meal delivery service directed by Jennifer Eason, owner of American and Jamaican soul food restaurant Jennifer’s Edibles in the 5th ward. Driving meals to the homebound elderly, Goldring said she saw a “stark” contrast between rundown senior facilities and luxury apartments across the street.

“I believe that (Goldring) has a fresh, more realistic view of Evanston,” Eason said. “You need people that are accessible and that can help you, and I believe that she is that person.”

Kati Paiz, who co-owns Reprise Coffee Roasters in the 4th ward also said she appreciates Goldring’s empathy and willingness to connect with the community.

With conversations surrounding policing becoming more common, Goldring said she thinks it is necessary for Evanston to have a “broader understanding” of community safety.

“Safety could include policing, but it is not exclusively policing,” she said, advocating for a reallocation of resources toward health and human services.

Goldring also wants the City Council to examine Evanston’s public safety ordinances. She cites curfews as an example of something that could give police more leeway to arrest people.

“There’s certain things that give police a lot of latitude to arrest people,” she said, citing curfew as an example.

Heather Sweeney, a mitigation specialist for the Sentencing Advocacy Group of Evanston and founder of the White Anti-Racism Affinity Group, said Goldring’s beliefs regarding reforming policing most closely align with hers out of the three aldermanic candidates.

Goldring’s campaign also emphasizes improving participatory democracy. Goldring said Wilson has failed to engage with residents in the past.

While other wards hold monthly meetings to update citizens, Goldring said Ald. Wilson only organizes 4th ward gatherings when there is a development project in the works. If elected, Goldring wants to hold regular ward meetings and write a newsletter to keep her constituents informed.

Goldring also said City Council meetings often continue after public comments without acknowledging resident testimonies, leading many to feel “excluded” from local government.

As she enters the competitive municipal election primary field, Goldring said she remains enthusiastic.

“City politics impacts your everyday life in a way that national politics doesn’t always,” she said. “I’m excited about just diving in and starting work.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @JorjaSiemons

Related Stories:

 — Aldermanic candidates discuss racial inequity, affordable housing in open forum

 — A comprehensive list of all the candidates for Evanston’s 2021 municipal elections 

 — Health and Human Services lays out 2021 budget