LTE: Vote for Clare Kelly in Evanston’s 1st Ward Aldermanic Race

Nick Agnew, Letter to the Editor

Over the last three terms, I have supported and campaigned for Judy Fiske as 1st Ward Alderman. This election season, I will no longer be voting for Alderman Fiske.

As I look back on Alderman Fiske’s three terms, I cannot help but acknowledge how much times have changed, but I must admit that I am much more concerned with how the Alderman Fiske years feel betrayed by the hope for good governance that we experienced when we initially supported her and the reality of what we are now experiencing at the hands of the politician who governs our Ward.

It seems to her once avid supporters that Alderman Fiske has done an about-face on many of the tough issues facing the Ward, including zoning, development, fiscal accountability, and historical preservation. Most frustrating, though, is her present approach to the City’s and the Ward’s relationship with Northwestern University. Once, the centerpiece of her campaign was the promise to hold NU accountable for the burden they place on our tax base and infrastructure. She once stood firmly behind the notion that, as a good neighbor, the City should focus efforts on working with NU to voluntarily contribute a fair and equitable sum of funds to our budget to offset the financial damage experienced by the City due to NU’s tax-exempt status. Today, Fiske is largely silent on the matter. She no longer seems to want to fight for an issue that is extremely important to her constituents.

Meanwhile, when the question of the City being reimbursed $659,000 by NU for fees associated with Fire Department services to their campus was raised by several Aldermen, we heard nothing from Alderman Fiske. What is she planning on doing about getting more money from a tax-free entity that has a $12.2 billion dollar endowment, while its host city suffers financially? Crickets from Alderman Fiske, who seems more intent on going after NU students over beer pong than focusing her efforts on working with NU’s administration on far more important matters.

In this election, I am supporting my neighbor and long-time Evanston community advocate, Clare Kelly. Kelly loves her ward, her town, and NU, where she has family ties dating back to the first graduating class, and where her youngest son recently graduated. Kelly is someone that puts words into action. She will stay on point and not go silent. Kelly will deliver on promises to her neighbors and community. One of the focal points of Kelly’s campaign is negotiating with NU on a Fair Share contribution and bringing to the table many examples of universities’ contributions to their host towns. Kelly is also focused on improving the transparency and integrity of our council and city government — something Ald Fiske used to do, but now seems far more comfortable in basking in the status quo of City Council politics. In her campaign literature, Fiske disingenuously makes comments about the need for civility. Alderman Fiske, that notion is a two way-street. Fiske used to know the importance of speaking up and speaking out for your constituency while being shouted down by the people in control, but perhaps, being a politician for three terms has made maintaining her office more important than serving the people who helped her get elected. It appears that Alderman Fiske is now far more focused on her own personal agenda rather than what is in the best interest of the 1st Ward and the City.

It is time to vote for a change in the 1st Ward so that we can once again focus on what is important for our Ward. Please join me in voting for Clare Kelly.

If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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