What Just Happened?

Since our last newsletter it seems like the political scene both nationally and locally has seen great shifts...at least for some. As we watched the polling numbers come in many were shocked to see a billionaire with no government experience win our highest office over our former Secretary of State. For days after the election, (some) Evanston residents were in emotional and physical shock. Others rejoiced. No matter who you voted for I think we can all agree that it was an unusual election year.

Following the election, the OPAL email account was full of messages inquiring if we were going to plan an action in response to the election. We did not. What we have done is process the election results with the goal of enhancing our mission here in Evanston. Here are some things we learned (or were reminded of):
  • America has a long way to go in the area of race relations with no clear plan to get there
    OPAL remains committed to pursuing Racial Equit
  • America has a lot of uneducated &/or disengaged voters. According to CNN, over 55% of the population (who's is of voting-age) did not vote in 2016
    OPAL remains committed to educating and engaging those who feel unheard or uninvite d to participate in  our governing bodies
  • Evanston had high voter turnout in November with 38,502 of our registered 48,745 voters participate. 
    OPAL remains committed to these missing 10,243 voters and continues to work to achieve a large voter turnout in our April elections 
What's Happening in Evanston

Locally we are experiencing what seems to be some 'unusual' behavior around our local upcoming elections. With only four races going uncontested in the City (Ward 2, 4, 7 and a 2-year District 65 School Board seat) there are been 9 legal filings to remove candidates from the ballot and we are set to have our first Primary election on Feb 28th (only for the Mayoral and 5th Ward Council races). Similar to the Presidential race, some say that this will be a long and tense political season in Evanston. 

Despite these challenges, OPAL is excited to see a larger number of candidates on ballot, including many who have not previously held office. While we can not take credit for this, this coincides with our mission to.. " achieve equity in Evanston through voter education, civic engagement, and candidate development."

It is our hope that the Presidential cycle in combination with the many choices voters have in April, will result in an abundance of educated voters in April who cast ballots for those they feel will lead Evanston forward as a unified city. 

Mark Your Calendars 

In support of a healthy, robust democracy and our mission of supporting new residents to hold elected office, we are hosting candidate forums in the Historic Foster Theater located in Family Focus (2100 Dewey). Due to the large pool of candidates, we have spilt the forums in order to allow ample time for audience questions and candidate responses.

Each evening will begin with a Candidate Meet 'n Greet from 5:15-5:45p followed by the forum from 6-8p. 
January 24 we will partner  with the Evanston NAACP to host an
Education Forum: 
District 65 candidates from 6-7p
District 202 candidates from 7-8p 

January 26:
Mayoral Candidates from 6-7p
Wards 1, 6, & 8 following from 7-8p

January 31:
Ward 5 candidates from 6-6:45p 
Wards 3, 9 and City Clerk Candidates from 6:45p-8p

Here's a list of the candidates (in contested races)

1st Ward
Lee Cabot

3rd Ward
Alex Morgan - alexforalderman.org
Alex Block - 
Melissa Wynne 
5th Ward **Primary Election on 2/28
Carolyn Murray - http://murrayfor5.com
Carliss Sutton
Daniel Featherson 

6th Ward
Virginia Mann
Tom Suffredin  
8th Ward
Ann Rainey

9th Ward
Cicely L. Fleming -  cicelylfleming.com
Shaun Jones -  http://jonesforevanston.com

City Clerk
Devon Reid -   Dev4Ev.com
Rodney Green

Mayoral **Primary on 2/28
Brian Miller -   Brianforevanston.com
Mark Tendam -  https://marktendam.net
Steve Hagerty -   www.stevehagerty.com
Gary Gaspard
Jeff Smith  

District 65
Candance Chow -  Campaign FB Page
Suni Kartha - Campaign FB Page
Nicholas Korzeniowski
Lindsay M. Cohen
Sergio Hernandez, Jr. - http://sergio4d65.nationbuilder.com
Scott D. Fishman
Joseph A. Hailpern

District 202
Patricia Savage-Williams
Gretchen Livingston -  http://www.livingstond202.com
Anne Sills -  https://www.annesills4202.com
Patricia Maunsell - 
Russell Kohnken
Jude Laude -   http://judelaudefor202.com

District 65 News

Board Vacancy 
Due to the departure of Board Member Richard Rykhus, the District 65 School Board will began accepting applications for a new board member on Jan 11. For more information click  here 

Operations Referendum- Tax Increase 
On Jan 10th, the School Board will meet to vote on the proposed $14.5M referendum. This vote will ONLY determine is the referendum goes on the April ballot. For more information about the proposed 5% property tax levy, please click  here  to read board materials that were presented last month OR watch the meeting online  here  (presentation starts at 39 minutes)

Equity Update
Consultant Corrie Wallace provided an update to the equity audits that have been taking place throughout the district. The entire report can be read here, however, some key finding reported by parents and teachers include....

Teachers are saying...
  • We feel pressure to focus on academics over social emotional student needs 
  • They're hungry for equity training to address growing diversity (Special needs, ELLs, immigrants, refugees, LGBTQ, race) 
  • Desire consistent message from leadership who's knowledgeable, self-aware, brave, courageous & willing to do what's best for kids even when
  • There are too many initiatives & too little time  

Parents are saying...

  • We feel more comfortable in our kid's school than at district
  • We're concerned about organic "diversity" v "created" diversity via bussing
  • We're ready to take a deep dive into equity training
  • We want to know what the plan is to bring consistency in our school across classrooms regarding teacher equity professional development

Events Happening around town

Local MLK Day Events:

Library Events:
On February 4th, StoryCorps' professional facilitators will be at the library recording interviews between pairs of community members. Each appointment lasts about an hour. We want to recruit 7 pairs of Evanstonians to interview each other about their lives. We are specifically interested in hearing stories from diverse groups, and we are hoping to recruit a variety ages and relationships (family members, friends, teachers, mentors, etc.). We are committed to using this program to hear the voices of Evanstonians not widely heard or known.
Library staff and volunteers will be trained to do field recording during February, we hope to send these interviewers out across the community during the program to collect stories from a variety of Evanston voices, at a variety of locations.  The hope to add these stories to our collection and make them available on our website and at programs here in the future. 

Support Equity
Please consider a financial contribution AND a gift of your time to help us improve Evanston. 

Give online @ opalevanston.com/donate
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