Hello Mr. Hagerty, How can you assure me you’ll have the Evanston Public School districts best interest in mind? I have been told you chose to send your children to North Shore Country Day. I understand parents make the best decisions for their families. However, without having children invested in our districts, I would like to know how you specifically will keep our schools as your highest priority? I was pleased to see you’ll push to have Northwestern pay property taxes on any future real estate purchases. As a parent of children in D65 & 202, this issue is important to me.
Thank you for your question. I know it’s on the minds of some, and I appreciate the opportunity to offer an answer. Although the City and Schools are separately governed, I understand the importance of having a Mayor that is an effective collaborator and ambassador for all of Evanston, including our families and schools. I think I can be that person and here’s why:
- I too have school age kids and can relate to the fears and aspirations parents have for their children. I understand that wherever kids go to school, parents want the best for their child, and there will inevitably be bumps along the way.
- Nine years ago, we thought our oldest child would go to our local public elementary school. However, after meeting with the Principal, we became concerned about the turnover in school leadership. As new parents who had the opportunity to consider other alternatives, we did. Ultimately, we decided to send our daughter and her brother to an independent, progressive school in the area. It was not an easy decision, but one we made together as a family, considering what we felt was best for our children in that moment. Even though our kids are thriving, it remains a decision we question from time to time.
- I am the product of a public school education in a working class town (Attleboro, MA). My parents were public middle school teachers; my dad for his entire career (history teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal). I have a tremendous amount of respect for the importance and value of public education.
- I have worked hard for many years, and will continue to work hard, to make sure I am attuned to the issues of parents and the schools in Evanston. I have a good working relationship with Dr. Goren and Dr. Witherspoon, and I’m particularly proud of the fact that I have the confidence of more than 700 public supporters many of whom are deeply rooted in the Evanston Public Schools, such as Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, former Mayor Lorraine Morton, Alderman Delores Holmes, Peter Braithwaite, and Eleanor Revelle, Orrington PTA President Kristin Harrelson O’Connor, Former Nichols PTA President Jenni Suvari, and many more PTA leaders and School Board Members, including Jonathan Baum, Omar Brown, and Suni Kartha.
- Starting with the first public forum (5th Ward), I have been consistently supportive of the D65 referendum. I have been briefed on this by Superintendent Paul Goren and D65 Board President Candance Chow. I understand clearly the impact additional cuts would have on classroom size, the quality of education, and potentially our property values. More than anything, I want Evanston to continue to be a community where all kids get an excellent education and grow to have a happy, productive, and meaningful life.
- When I say education for all kids, I mean that, and I acknowledge that our schools and our city haven’t always been equitable in serving everyone. In my support of the referendum, I acknowledge that it’s a complex issue that could affect the affordability and, in turn, diversity of our city. That being said, I think if this referendum passes, we need to make an extra effort to address the issues we create and exacerbate. One of the ways we can address the issue of affordability is by developing and implementing a comprehensive inclusionary housing plan and making sure we earmark moneys for that fund. I strongly support the referendum, but I also think we need to have a process in place to address the issues it may cause.
- Should the referendum not pass, I believe I have a demonstrated track record of bringing fresh ideas and perspective to challenges, as I have had to do that for the last 24 years as a management consultant to government agencies around the country. Although the schools are separately governed, I would nonetheless, offer to help them consider options.
- I care deeply about the achievement gap and what we can do to reduce it. I think a lot about the catchphrase, “Potential is universal, opportunity is not,” and ask myself what I can do from where I stand to help address it. It’s why I’m heavily involved in YOU’s mission, pushed to have the Forest Powell Foundation’s Work Ethic (WE) Program recognized and awarded a $5K grant this past Fall at the MashUp, and why I have supported the D65 Foundation and other school based efforts in the past.
- As Mayor, I will attend the D65, D202, and City quarterly meetings. I also plan to visit with the PTA Council, as well as visit with students in the classroom. I speak periodically about the importance of public service on college campuses and will do the same within our schools. Additionally, I will support our kids, as I did recently in attending and speaking at their march to Fountain Square. I think it’s important for our kids to be attuned to their community, national, and world events and, to the extent that I can demonstrate the importance of this, I will.
- As an entrepreneur, I will make clear the connection between economic development in the City and the benefit it offers to our schools. When opposition to projects arises – which is natural – often the oppositions’ voices drowns out the rationale for why we would want to move forward with a project (i.e., that it will expand our tax base and generate more money for our schools). Too often I think this is forgotten. The bottom line is: we have more needs than we do revenue in this City. Therefore, we must be more assertive in expanding economic development within all areas of Evanston. This not only helps the City’s tax base but the schools. An entrepreneur and successful business owner, I believe I have a track record that demonstrates that I can help the City expand its tax base through smart and sensible practices related to business attraction and economic development while also balancing and taking into account community voices.
- Lastly, my wife and I made a conscious choice to settle down, raise our family, and build a business in Evanston. We did this because of many factors, including the urban setting, the schools, the Lake, the community’s socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic diversity, Northwestern, a vibrant downtown and business districts, and proximity to Chicago. Like many residents, we feel strongly that it’s important to be civically engaged. We have worked hard to do that and, should I be elected Mayor, I will continue to do that in all regards, including ensuring that we have a well-funded and quality educational system for our children.
On balance, I hope you will conclude that I have the experience, character, and good intentions to fairly represent all of the interests of our fine City.