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Don't Hire a City Manager Without an Open Process

Dear Evanston supports OPAL's call for resident input in selecting Evanston's next City Manager. Recently, OPAL released a statement and petition in response to Mayor Steve Hagerty and City Council's attempt to hire a City Manager without a national search or public process.

Instead, Mayor Hagerty pushed to automatically hire Evanston's interim City Manager Erika Storlie.

At a City Council meeting on February 24, following the resignation of then-City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz who left for a position in Washington State, the council agreed to follow a public, transparent process in the search for a new city manager.

In a March 2 article, Evanston Review reporter Genevieve Bookwalter reported on the schedule that was set by city council to hire a new city manager. You can read that article here. The schedule reflected that aldermen would pick the five to seven candidates they want to interview, and the top three finalists would meet with the public before a final decision was made.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, city council had planned to interview the final candidates right around now.

Though the pandemic has thrown every and all schedules for a loop, it's important--more now than ever--that the city council stick to the plan it agreed to, conduct a thorough search, and include public participation in selecting Evanston's next city manager.

In Mayor Hagerty's statement responding to the murder of George Floyd, he wrote that he would call on Black leaders in Evanston and "publicly listen to their voices, seeking their guidance on what Evanston can do to begin to heal deep wounds and to advance equity in our community for our Black families and neighbors."

As a white man and elected official, he said, "it is my responsibility to call out racism and work to change a deeply flawed system."

Let the work begin. Let's use this opportunity to ensure that the hiring of Evanston's next city manager is done with intention, with an eye toward equity, and in the manner to which the mayor and city council agreed.

You can read OPAL's message and petition here.


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