Devon Reid emphasizes affordable housing, transparency in 8th Ward aldermanic race


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

City clerk and 8th Ward aldermanic candidate Devon Reid. Reid made his case for the Eighth Ward seat in a Tuesday debate that escalated after Ald. Rainey made a racially charged remark toward the clerk.

Julia Richardson, Assistant City Editor

Hoping to offer a new, yet informed perspective to City Council, Devon Reid says he’s prioritizing transparency and accountability in his campaign for 8th Ward alderman.

The city clerk was born in Evanston, and spent his teenage years in Chicago before returning to the 8th Ward. Upon his return to Evanston, he became involved in local political campaigns. With a background as a political consultant and a community organizer, Reid was elected city clerk in 2017.

Reid said becoming 8th Ward alderman would be a “natural evolution” from his current role, and believes his experience as city clerk will work to his advantage.

“I’ve been at every executive session, at all of the council meetings; I’ve been on certain boards,” Reid said. “It’s really given me a deep understanding about how my colleagues work. I’ve had essentially the experience of being an alderman without a vote.”

Reid’s platform emphasizes affordable housing and economic equality.

“As someone who grew up experiencing homelessness when I was younger, living in foster care, and having two parents in prison, I understand the struggles of my community,” Reid said. “(I) understand the struggle of a large population of our ward who goes out day after day and is trying their damndest, but feels as though the system is stacked against them.”

Reid also noted the access he has as clerk to Evanston’s data and records, which he has reviewed in detail. He said his studies of the city’s policies and practices and his knowledge of Evanston’s government would serve him well as alderman.

Evanston resident William Eason, who met Reid during his campaign for clerk, praised Reid’s research skills and knowledge of city history.

“As a researcher, there’s not much that he won’t go find out,” Eason said. “When he says he’s gonna do something, it’s not gonna be just words, because he has the capacity to go research and find the best way to get something done.”

If elected, Reid plans to prioritize government transparency, something he said he has always advocated for as city clerk. He cited his support for the Evanston Voter Initiative, a 2020 referendum that would have given residents more power to influence which items go to Council for a vote.

He also said he hopes to improve access to city records, promoting accountability and an incentive for officials to be truthful with residents.

City clerk candidate Jackson Paller (Weinberg ‘17) said transparency and accessibility have historically “taken a backseat” in City Council.

“As clerk, (Reid) fought for transparency as much as he could, but there’s a limit to what you can do in that office,” Paller said. “I think he would be a powerful voice on the City Council, with a lot more power to influence policy in that direction.”

Reid said transparency within Evanston Police Department is the “first step” to reimagining policing in the city. He said the clerk’s office under him put forward a policy change mandating that all police conduct and use of force records be published on the city’s website, a policy EPD has not followed.

Evanston spends 36 percent of its general fund budget on policing, while areas such as the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, and the Evanston Health Department remain underfunded, Reid said.

“When we have traffic stops, where people have simply made a wrong turn or accidentally not stopped long enough at a stop sign, we don’t need to send someone with a gun to that situation,” Reid said. “For me, the biggest part of reimagining is…more thoughtfully sending the right staff to deal with the right situation.”

He also noted that the 8th Ward is among the most ticketed and fined areas of Evanston, further adding to the struggles low-income residents in the ward face.

Martha Burns, an Evanston resident and political consultant, met Reid working on a political campaign. Burns said Reid will be able to make an impact on the 8th Ward, which is characterized by over-policing and financial insecurities.

“There are a lot of police stops, there are a lot of people that are housing insecure, that are employment insecure, that are health insecure,” Burns said. “Because of (Reid’s) compassion and because of his passion for policy, I think he feels that there’s enough work that he can do in the 8th ward to effect policy changes that will help the constituents.”

Burns also said Reid is a good listener who she knows he will always have his constituents’ best interests in mind.

“While he is not perfect, I do think that he will be totally immersed and engaged in making sure that, as an 8th Ward alderman, he’s representing the ward,” Burns said. “Through…research and listening and building relationships and meetings, he will do the best job that he can with the 8th Ward interests at the highest.”

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