Two years ago the Council passed an initiative to make Evanston a more livable community for all age groups. I was a strong supporter of this movement on the Council, and as Mayor, I will continue that fight with the following actions:
- I will continue to push for programs to ensure that every senior, regardless of their living situation, is able to age gracefully in our City. Our senior residents are among our greatest assets. No senior citizen in Evanston should be hungry, homeless or unable to access the facilities and amenities that their tax dollars built in the first place.
- I will continue my efforts to clear obstacles from seniors that others might not see — yes, we have handicap parking spaces in Evanston, but many of those spots are virtually inaccessible for seniors due to their curb proximity. Our streets and sanitation workers do a yeoman’s job of clearing our streets of snow and ice in the winter, but one of the unintended consequences of these efforts is the creation of ice walls that separate pedestrians from the sidewalk. These are hard for anyone to navigate but they present an impossible obstacle for seniors — many of whom depend upon walkers and canes for mobility. I intend to address these problems head-on by proactively trouble shooting the critical areas adjacent to grocery stores, pharmacies and medical facilities and by making it easier to report problems as they arise.
- I will promote greater awareness of the programs that the City has introduced to improve the lives of our senior residents including: the Seniors Free Transit Ride and Subsidized Taxicab Programs, Vehicle and Yard Waste Discount Programs, the Handyman Program, the Prescription Discount Card Program, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Project and the Recreation Program Fee Assistance Program.
- I will push for the creation of a dedicated hot line that seniors can use to report predatory businesses that target seniors.
At the other end of the spectrum we need to ensure that our youngest residents are starting life on a level playing field. As Mayor I will look for other ways to keep our children active, healthy, engaged and safe including:
- Continuing the involvement that I have had with our school districts, both as a member of the City-School Liaison Committee and on an ad hoc basis. While the City does not run the schools, the City can and does collaborate with the schools to address issues facing our youth and the Mayor is in a unique position to be an advocate for our youngest residents. Examples of successful partnerships between the City and the Schools include: the City’s ongoing partnership with early childcare/education providers, the Cradle to Career initiative, the Youth Summer Jobs program and, most recently, the “Officer and a Gentleman” collaboration between the Evanston Police Department and District 65.
- Standing up wherever possible in the fight against bullying, exclusion, inequality, drug abuse, teen homelessness, food insecurity and violence. As Mayor, I will continue the work that my fellow members of the Council and I have done in collaboration with the School Districts and the Evanston Police Department to address these issues.
- Working with the Evanston Police Department, the Council and the Schools to improve and increase security at (and around) our school campuses. This must include continually reviewing our procedures for dealing with emergency situations to ensure that we are following state of the art, best practices in the field.
- Ensuring that taxes are as low as we can make them WITHOUT compromising the services and values that draw people to Evanston in the first place. People come here for our schools. We have a proven reputation for excellence that we cannot compromise. And so, while it is not technically part of a Mayor’s (or Alderman’s) job to take a position on school funding, I am proud to provide leadership on this issue. The District 65 Referendum has my full support. Evanston’s commitment to its public schools is a testament to our shared values and I am campaigning for this initiative as hard as I can because our kids are our best hope for the future. Not a single vote that will be cast in this election (and that includes any votes cast for Mayor) are as important as this one. The lives and futures of our youngest residents are literally hanging in the balance. We can’t let them down.
View: Mark’s endorsement of the District 65 Referendum.