Patricia Gregory, 2nd Ward candidate, talks Evanston houselessness and community leadership experiences


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

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

Pavan Acharya, Campus Editor

As a gym teacher and union representative at Lincoln Elementary School, Parks and Recreation Board member and community “role model,” Patricia Gregory said she’s learned the importance of listening above all else.

“Everyone’s life experience is different,” Gregory said. “My plan is to make sure that when I sit there and I listen to what other people have to say, I can chime in and be a good representation of the people I serve.”

For Gregory, who is running against Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) and challenger Darlene Cannon, listening to the needs of constituents is key. Gregory said she was partially inspired to run because of the efforts of past councilmembers — like former Ald. Dennis Drummer (2nd) — to discuss policy and community issues with constituents.

If elected, Gregory said she will focus on protecting small businesses and supporting houseless individuals, especially children. As a teacher, she said she’s worked with a significant number of houseless students, an issue she’s seeking to address on council.

Gregory, who has been an educator for more than 25 years, said current efforts to address houselessness in Evanston have not worked. More than 300 students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 are houseless this academic year, according to District 65 social worker Allison Harned.  

“A lot of these nonprofits need to address the people that they say they do and not just keep people away and not just have people that they know, but actually help some of these (houseless) people,” Gregory said.

She also said City Council should meet with small business owners throughout Evanston to discuss how the city’s remaining funds from the American Rescue Plan Act should be distributed. The City of Evanston received almost $43.2 million in ARPA funds over 2021 and 2022 — and about $5.2 million have yet to be allocated.

Gregory said she used to canvass the 5th Ward every two years as part of Foster Park Neighbors to learn what facilities or community spaces community members want constructed.

She conducts similar activities as a Parks and Recreation Board member, she said, working to determine how Evanston recreational services, like the forthcoming Evanston Skate Park, can improve. 

“I like change,” Gregory said. “I like to see things moving and support things that are positive and will keep our community viable.”

Bettye Cohns, a member of the board of directors and former executive director at licensed preschool center Reba Early Learning Center, said she met Gregory in 2014. Gregory became involved and supportive of teachers in the space almost immediately, Cohns said. 

Cohns called Gregory, who joined the board of directors as a parent representative in 2019, an active listener.

“I just know that she would definitely be a good person to have as a councilmember just because she does listen,” Cohns said. “She does know what the needs of the community are in terms of the most underserved and because she works with children on a daily basis.”

Former Lincoln Elementary School teacher Kathy Pouper worked with Gregory, whom she said is held in “high regard” in the 2nd Ward for her efforts to support students both inside and outside the classroom through programs like youth running program Girls on the Run.

She added that Gregory’s community work extends beyond the classroom to her neighbors as well.

“She’s an advocate for people who need advocacy,” Pouper said. “She’s gone above and beyond to advocate for people who needed it.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @PavanAcharya02