9th Ward Ald. Cicely Fleming to depart City Council


Daily file photo by Nick Francis

Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th). Fleming serves as the state director for Birth to Five Illinois.

Yiming Fu, City Editor

After five years of representing Evanston’s 9th Ward, Ald. Cicely Fleming will step down from her role late next month. 

Fleming made the announcement at Monday’s City Council meeting. She said she’s stepping away from the council to take care of herself and find spaces that allow her to be fully heard. 

“Ultimately this position has become more harmful to my health than joyful to me,” she said. 

Fleming said she will work with Mayor Daniel Biss to ensure a public process to find her replacement. The alderwoman told City Council on Monday night that she will remain in her position until the council chooses the next city manager. The search is expected to end late January. 

Fleming was first elected in 2017 and ran unopposed in the last municipal election cycle. Her current term originally ended in 2025. She previously served as a Parent Teacher Association president, a member of the city’s Mental Health Board and a volunteer at Connections for the Homeless. 

In her first term on City Council, Fleming worked on racial equity initiatives, police accountability and alternatives to arrest. 

This March, Fleming was the sole councilmember to vote “no” on the city’s Restorative Housing Reparations Program. In a statement explaining her vote, Fleming wrote the reparations program passed with minimal community input, and the decision to pass it so quickly prioritizes outside interest groups instead of addressing harm done to Black people for generations. 

“This is the definition of the systemic racism our efforts are meant to combat,” Fleming said. “The actual result will be further marginalization of Black autonomy, opinion, and intellect.” 

City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza, who lives in the 9th Ward, said she is sad to see Fleming step down because the alderwoman has done an excellent job representing her ward. 

“One of the reasons why I’ve stayed in the 9th Ward is because you’re here,” Mendoza said to her alderwoman at Monday’s meeting. 

Mendoza said Fleming is one of the only councilmembers who sends out a detailed newsletter updating community members in her ward — and the lone alderperson who actively engages with Evanston’s Latino community. 

Alds. Clare Kelly (1st) and Bobby Burns (5th) both said they consider Fleming a mentor and a model for how to communicate and engage with their wards. 

Fleming said her mother’s recent passing played a large part in her decision to step down and helped her re-evaluate how she wants to spend her life. She said she still loves the city, where her family has lived and worked in public service for multiple generations, but it’s time for her to move on from the council. 

“I wish that I could be more effective here, but at a certain point, you just have to know when to fold ‘em,” Fleming said. “It just became too challenging for me to fight this fight on City Council, so I will take my fight elsewhere.”

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