"I hope to galvanize the community and help usher in a new way of tackling problems."
Meet Rob Bady, Rob Bady for the 8th Ward Evanston
Evanston's local elections are around the corner. Dear Evanston caught up with several first-time candidates to ask them why they're running ... and about their favorite snacks and hidden talents. Here's Rob Bady, who's running for eighth ward alderman against incumbent Ann Rainey for Alderman, 8th Ward.
DE: Where did you grow up?
RB: I grew up on the west side of Chicago in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. It was a lower income area with one of the largest public conservatories in the country. There were plenty of vacant, distressed and abandoned buildings and lots. Not a whole lot of investment in the community.
DE: What did you study in college?
RB: I studied speech communication at North Park University and I graduated with a BA in Arts in communications in 1991. I was a four-year letterman in Basketball and was part of the national ranked defending Div. III National Champions in 1988.
DE: Why and when did you move to Evanston?
RB: I moved to Evanston 16 years ago with my wife and infant because Evanston was a welcoming city. Being in a multiracial marriage, Evanston offered us the best chance for affordable living in the Reba neighborhood, a solid school system, and a chance for upward moblity.
DE: What did you want to be when you grew up?
RB: Like every other young black boy from the inner city, I wanted to play professional basketball. After a very short professional stint mainly trying out for teams in the NBA, CBA and other semi-pro organizations, I decided to keep my day job as a account executive as it more money than I was offered to play hoops. I'm very thankful for my degree.
DE: What's your profession now?
RB: I'm a sales consultant for the IGS Energy, a 27-year-old private energy company specializing in the efficient use and smart purchasing of energy resources. We supply energy solutions for small businesses, organizations and residential properties, including Solar, Generation and CNG services.
DE: What do you do in your spare time (other than right now!)?
RB: I am a volunteer coach for the Men's Senior Olympic team at the Levy senior center. I'm on the Historic Preservation Commission and I'm a Ridgeville Park District commissioner. I play in a men's hoops league twice a week and I manage and play in my band Suite Mollie.
DE: What's your favorite snack food?
RB: Banana with Almond butter from Costco.
DE: What are some of your ward 's strengths?
RB: It's diversity and the people! Our current demographics are 39.5 percent African American, 18.9 percent Latino, and 41.60 percent White or other. Our Parks and green space, especially our 14.1 acres of parks for Ridgeville and James Park, which needs major renovations, the Levy Center, and our commercial district along Howard.
DE: What are some of its challenges?
RB: The achievement gap between black and white students in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School. The water quality issues at James Park. Parking in the neighborhoods and areas with a high density of apartments. Getting residents engaged in the ward and getting their input on how to develop Howard Street. And how to use police outposts in a way that benefits everyone in the community.
DE: What led to your run for City Council?
RB: I've always wanted to do more for my community. As a commissioner of Ridgeville, I can effect policy for the park and affect peoples lives directly by providing the best programming and services. As an alderman, I'd be able to affect so much more than just Ridgeville that can help improve the quality of life for all of Evanston. Also, there has been very little input, if any, from citizens in the ward. Decisions are being made without public meetings. We had our first ward meeting in two years on March 14. We need a new perspective, new energy, and initiative.
DE: What do you hope to accomplish?
RB: I hope to galvanize the community and help usher in a new way of tackling problems in the eighth. We can do more together. There are a host of new families, seniors, and youth who need affordable housing, city services, and advocacy from the leader of the ward. I hope to extend Northwestern University reach to Howard street and include the residents in a Master Plan. I'll have quarterly meetings, a newsletter, and social media presence.
DE: What have you enjoyed most about campaigning? Least?
RB: I love to knock doors and see who's on the other side. We have so many rich stories of people of diverse backgrounds telling their truths. I have absolutely loved each and every one of my encounters. Also, my family is campaigning with me.
Not getting enough rest. Sleep is not overated!
DE: There's a wide racial and socioeconomic divide in the city--what are you plans to help change that?
RB: We absolutely have to continue to have a dialogue with everyone who is disenfranchised. We have to invest in community, especially those suffering the most. For example, we could have tutoring services or a library on Howard street for our more than 90 percent students of color who have no outlets after school. We can't leave everything up to D65 to figure out. Our most wealthy resource in town is Northwestern, we need to partner with them and welcome them to have a south-end presence, enabling us to build together.
DE: Youth violence-what can we do to reduce it?
RB: We need early involvement and early literacy for kids in Pre-K to 4th grade. We need mentoring, mentoring, mentoring!
With all the nonprofits, like Chessmen Club of the North Shore, Inc., McGaw YMCA - Evanston and Faam Hoops, to name a few, we should not have one child without a mentor. Having someone to believe in you and help you develop in those formative years will go a long way.
Churches, synagogues, Parishes and all places of worship need to be involved on a citywide level. We need to meet with City officials, police, city strategy services and meet needs of our most vulnerable through jobs, training, and apprenticeships.
DE: What's your talent?
RB: Music. And basketball. I actually played high school and college basketball, and got cut from the pros. It keeps me balanced. I also train youth and adults.
DE: Do you have a role model?
RB: I really admire Bill Foster, a research scientist turned politician representing the 11th Congressional District of Illinois. Simply because he didn't allow anyone to typecast him. I am not allowing anyone to typecast me into thinking that I can't do this. Everyone starts somewhere.
DE: Why should eighth ward voters vote for you?
RB: I will have citizen involvement for everyone. I will be a champion for everyone in the eighth ward. I will be accessible and available to you and your concerns. I will be the voice on Council representing our constituents needs, concerns and wishes.