Juan Geracaris, 9th Ward incumbent, talks affordable housing and Latine representation on council


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th). Geracaris is running for reelection to City Council against Kathy Hayes.

Casey He, Assistant City Editor

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) didn’t think the city provided enough information or assistance to Evanston’s Latine community. Though he did not yet serve on City Council, Geracaris worked to fill in the gaps with the nonprofit organization Evanston Latinos that he helped found.

“Through my community organizing, especially my work with the Latino community, I became well aware that members of the Latino community really wanted to see someone represent them on council,” Geracaris said.

A first-generation Argentine immigrant, Geracaris has lived and worked in Evanston for more than 29 years. After former Ald. Cicely Fleming (9th) stepped down, Mayor Daniel Biss appointed Geracaris to the 9th Ward councilmember seat in February 2022, making him Evanston’s first Latino councilmember. Now, he’s running for reelection against challenger Kathy Hayes, a fellow 9th Ward resident. 

Geracaris graduated from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering in 1997 and now works as a senior network systems engineer in the Kellogg School of Management. He also co-founded Evanston Skates to advocate for a permanent skate park in the city, which is set to begin construction later this spring.

Geracaris said his top priorities include increasing affordable housing, advocating for cyclist and pedestrian safety and furthering the city’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan by helping residents modernize homes with energy-efficient technology.

“We want to keep Evanstonians here in Evanston,” he said. “As we move forward, it’s trying to see where we can be creative, have more new developments in Evanston and also hopefully make zoning changes to facilitate affordable housing.”

He said he is currently working on a proposal for a fair notice ordinance that would protect long-term renters from price increases and lease termination on short notice.

Mayor Daniel Biss and City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza have both endorsed Geracaris’ reelection, according to his campaign website.

Mendoza said she appreciates the perspectives Geracaris brings to City Council.

“(Geracaris) comes with the experience of being a Latino and understanding the struggles behind not being represented in the city … and hurdles that the undocumented community here goes through,” she said.

Before Geracaris joined City Council, no councilmembers spoke Spanish, Mendoza said. Now, she said she can connect Spanish-speaking residents to Geracaris, whether or not the residents are from the 9th Ward. 

Recently, Geracaris helped resettle several refugee families from Venezuela, Mendoza said.

Geracaris said he always finds it rewarding to receive a message in Spanish. He wants to ensure Evanston residents, especially Spanish speakers, know he can be a resource to them, he added.

In order to increase communication with constituents and promote transparency, Geracaris also posts his notes from each City Council and committee meeting he attends on his Facebook page. 

Eric Pitt, a friend of Geracaris’ for nearly 20 years and co-founder of Evanston Skates, said they met for the first time at a record fair and later at a skatepark. 

“(Geracaris) is just not this sleazy politician type,” Pitt said. “He’s a community organizer. He’s got a strong commitment, and he’s a really genuine person.”

Having attended several council meetings himself, Pitt said he found them to be slow and frustrating. But he appreciated Geracaris’ patience and thoughtfulness in listening to community members and balancing competing interests, Pitt said.

If reelected, Geracaris said he wants to continue the work he has been doing.

“I’m constantly learning and trying to do better in this position,” he said. “And I feel like I’m getting my stride now.”

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