Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Biss campaign fund nearly doubled after contentious November, report shows

Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
Cash on hand for Mayor Daniel Biss’ still-active campaign committee nearly doubled in late 2023, a newly filed report shows, though the mayor said he hasn’t yet decided whether to run for reelection.

Mayor Daniel Biss’ still-active campaign committee saw its funds nearly double late last year, the committee’s quarterly report shows, though Biss said he has not yet decided whether to run for reelection.

The committee, called Friends of Daniel Biss, received $64,350 in itemized individual donations that ranged from $250 to $6,900 during the Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 reporting period. With smaller donations and other non-itemized income, Friends of Biss received a total of $64,561 in the period.

The 28 itemized donations — most at or above $1,000 — landed in the committee’s coffers between Nov. 27 and Dec. 27.

After paying for software and processing fees, the committee ended the quarter with about $127,000 on hand, almost double the nearly $64,000 it had on Oct. 1, the report shows.

“I feel really supported by the community,” Biss told The Daily. “I feel honored by that support. I take it really seriously. I think the relationship between elected officials and their bosses — their constituents — is a sacred relationship.”

The donations followed a contentious month for the mayor. A 7th Ward resident launched an anti-Biss campaign called “Better than Biss” in early November, after Biss indicated support for Northwestern’s plan to host concerts at a rebuilt Ryan Field.

On Nov. 20, Biss ultimately broke City Council’s tie in favor of NU’s controversial plan, later calling it a “generational investment.”

“The thing that changed was that someone was out there saying, ‘Daniel shouldn’t be reelected as mayor,’” Biss said. “So, it’s possible that maybe the donations were coming in reaction to that to say, ‘Oh no, we think Daniel’s great.’”

The Better than Biss campaign launched with a vow to oust Biss if he runs for reelection in 2025. Its website says Biss has let residents down and lists multiple grievances.

Founder Parielle Davis told The Daily in November that she started the effort because of a “complete lack of leadership” from Biss amid the Ryan Field debate. Davis told The Daily she was not available to comment on this story.

Most City Council members have closed their campaign committees since being elected to the council. Those who kept campaigns active received few, if any, contributions over the past few months, the state database showed. None reported itemized, or major, donations.

Friends of Biss filed its quarterly report last week. Since Biss’ landslide mayoral victory in 2021, the committee’s cash levels have hovered consistently around $60,000.

The campaign logged a total of eight itemized individual donations between March 2021 and October 2023, and then the flurry of contributions began to roll in. However, these donations don’t necessarily indicate a looming reelection bid, Biss said.

“Either I’m running for reelection as mayor in April 2025, or I’ll be leaving public office, at least for the time being,” he said. “That’s really the question, whether I’ll be running for reelection or not.”

Despite Better than Biss’ launch in November, no candidates have publicly declared for the 2025 mayoral election. Sebastian Nalls, who lost to Biss in 2021, told The Daily earlier this month he can’t say “what’s going to happen in the next year.” 

Nalls said he thinks Biss’ sudden wave of donations could indicate a bid to discourage potential opponents — and they could prove “insurmountable” for anyone wishing to oppose Biss, he said.

“If this was a widespread effort from small donations or people just across Evanston that say, ‘Oh, I want to support the mayor,’ you would see a whole lot more small campaign contributions,” Nalls said. “These are very, very large contributions.”

However, murmurs about next year’s elections should not distract from the city’s agenda for this year, Biss said.

“In general, I don’t want to be in a situation where there are more political distractions getting in the way of governing this year than necessary,” Biss added. “That’s going to be one of the considerations in mind as I figure out an appropriate timeline on a potential 2025 campaign.”

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