Darlene Cannon, 2nd Ward candidate, talks affordable housing and communication


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Darlene Cannon. Cannon is running against Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) and Patricia Gregory to represent the 2nd Ward on City Council.

Lily Ogburn, Reporter

Darlene Cannon grew up in the 2nd Ward, attending Evanston/Skokie School District 65 schools before going to Evanston Township High School. That history, she said, would help her connect to her constituents should she win her City Council race.

“I’m running a progressive grassroots campaign, and it’s really based on people power,” she said.

Cannon is running to represent the 2nd Ward against current Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) and District 65 teacher Patricia Gregory. Cannon is focusing on improving equitable housing options and city communication in her campaign.

Cannon serves as a member of the Citizens’ Network of Protection and the Equity and Empowerment Commission, where she’s worked on an ordinance to protect homeowners from aggressive real estate developers. 

As a member of City Council, Cannon said she would address “the elephant in the room” in Evanston: the declining Black population and racial inequity. Evanston was 16.1% Black in the 2020 census compared to 22.5% in 2000. 

Cannon said the lack of affordable housing is part of the reason Evanston has fewer Black residents. 

Cannon hopes to expand Evanston’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which she described as “extremely weak,” to require developments to include more low-cost units with accommodations for different size families. 

“(Evanston) is a very sought-after community, but often, there’s a lot of luxury being built, which elevates the cost of rent,” Cannon said. “We need to really push to make sure that they’re building what we need.”

Community organizer Chris White said they support Cannon because of her housing and equity-oriented policies.

“I think there’s a real struggle in Evanston between constantly using a buzzword versus actually making a plan to make equity happen,” they said. “I think (Cannon) is more on the side of having a real concrete plan.”

White said they think Evanston needs strong Black leaders like Cannon to head the movement.

2nd Ward resident Bruce Allen King, who created Feeding the Village Evanston with Cannon to combat food insecurity, said Cannon best understands the needs of Evanston’s marginalized communities. 

“I think hands need to be stretched out to help those who are considered a lot less fortunate,” he said.

In order to reach out to everyone, Cannon said she emphasizes door-to-door communication and in-person connection.

If elected, Cannon said she would hold office hours with constituents outside of ward meetings to promote conversation.

“Residents in this city are very smart, and they have a vast variety of backgrounds and experiences,” she said. “We could use their insight.”

Moreover, Cannon said she thinks Northwestern needs to be a “better neighbor” to Evanston.

She noted that though the University has its own police force, it relies on Evanston Police Department and Evanston Fire Department for backup.

“I think that it would be only fair and right for (NU) to give a substantial donation,” she said. “Actually putting it in writing that this is what (it’s) going to be committed to giving to this community going forward.”

Cannon said she supports the Fair Share Northwestern partnership, which stipulates that as a tax-exempt university, the University should establish a payment in lieu of taxes.

She said collaboration is key among City Council members, and that the council can work together to improve the lives of residents. 

“I love Evanston, and I feel that we can do better,” Cannon said. “We can do better as a council, and we can do better as a community to address and support our residents.” 

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Twitter: @LilyOgburn