Evanston residents, organizations react to projected primary results


Illustration by Cynthia Zhang

Evanston residents and organizations reacted to the unofficial results of Tuesday’s primary election.

Delaney Nelson and Angeli Mittal

While waiting for Tuesday’s primary election results to be finalized, Evanston residents and organizations reacted to the projected election of a new mayor and city clerk, and ousting of incumbents in the 4th and 8th wards.

Unofficial results show former state Sen. Daniel Biss secured over 73 percent of the votes in the mayoral election, well over the 50 percent vote threshold to automatically win the race. Biss faced off against local activist Lori Keenan and Evanston Township High School graduate Sebastian Nalls.

The Democratic Party of Evanston endorsed Biss for mayor. Rachel Ruttenberg, the DPOE’s board president, said the organization was “thrilled” with the results. He also secured the endorsements of the Community Alliance for Better Government, the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and more.

Indivisible senior regional organizer Nick Uniejewski said having a progressive Democrat like Biss — who has been a proponent of Indivisible Evanston — as mayor is exciting, especially for advancing the progressive group’s agenda at a local level.

Biss’ win did not come as a surprise to many residents. Meredith Rogowski, who knows Biss and his family through their children’s schools, said he is well-known in the area. She supported the Mayor-elect because of his dedication to schools and local small businesses.

Karla Thomas, an Evanston activist and Northwestern graduate student, said she expected Biss to win by a large margin and is happy with the outcome.

“I would love to see more from Sebastian (Nalls) in the future,” Thomas said. “Realistically, Daniel will take a little more pushing in progressive directions than Sebastian might have taken, but the gap to me isn’t that huge.”

In the 8th Ward aldermanic primary, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) is projected to lose her seat, trailing behind opponents City Clerk Devon Reid and Ridgeville Park District commissioner Matthew Mitchell, who seem set for a runoff in the April 6 general election.

Earlier this month, all three mayoral candidates released statements condemning Rainey, as did residents during public comment at the Feb. 10 City Council meeting, after she called Reid a “very scary person” at a Feb. 2 debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Evanston.

“The fact that the Black man whom she often directed her racist remarks towards in his present position as City Clerk (is ahead) brings me a sense of unbridled joy,” Thomas wrote to The Daily. “I literally danced last night when I heard. Karma will get you every time.”

Jonathan Nieuswma and Diane Goldring are the projected top two-vote getters in the 4th Ward aldermanic race, ousting incumbent Ald. Don Wilson (4th). The two are expected to advance to the general election.

Kemone Hendricks, who is under a contract to do campaign communications consulting for the Nieuswma campaign, said Nieuswma has shown he will listen to people in the community and “work to bring a better representation to the 4th Ward.” The success of the challengers, she said, shows residents are looking for new leaders who will address issues such as systemic racism.

She said she expects to see similar results in the general election.

“People are tired of not being listened to,” Hendricks said. “People are ready for a change and that’s what the results showed.”

Blair Garber, the Republican committeeman for Evanston Township GOP, said the lack of a Republican candidate in the municipal elections demonstrates a one-party system in Evanston that was not evident in the ‘60s.

While he said he expects Biss to push the agenda further left, he also does not see any indication Republicans will be competitive in future Evanston elections.

Aside from encouraging voter turnout and political discourse throughout Evanston, Ruttenberg said the DPOE will be supporting 1st Ward aldermanic candidate Clare Kelly’s campaign through phone banking and get-out-the-vote efforts. Kelly, who is running against incumbent Ald. Judy Fiske (1st), is the only aldermanic candidate endorsed by the organization who has an opponent.

“I think turnout is sort of the name of the game in these municipal elections,” Ruttenberg said. “It’s a great way for our local community to make sure that we have elected leaders at all levels of government that uphold and and believe in progressive values and policies.”

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Twitter: @delaneygnelson and @amittal27

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Daniel Biss to become Evanston’s next mayor

Rainey projected to lose 8th Ward seat

Nieuwsma, Goldring projected to advance in 4th Ward aldermanic race