During my 8 years on Council, Evanston has become one of the nation’s most sustainable cities. Our efforts started right at home with our Civic Center and City vehicles and then expanded to improving the City’s recycling program, incorporating more environmentally friendly materials in paving projects where appropriate, adding bike racks and charging stations to City parking facilities, contracting for 100% green power for Evanston residents and small businesses, taking a hard look at the City’s parks and open spaces to identify where improvements need to be made, and establishing a utilities benchmarking processes for medium to large buildings.
As Mayor, I will build on these successes with the following actions:
- I will push for an expansion of our weatherization assistance program, which is the ultimate “win/win” for the City: homeowners save on utility costs and we all benefit from a reduced carbon footprint.
- I will be the City’s primary advocate for the creation of more sustainable developments, including the construction of more mixed retail and residential projects near public transportation hubs. These sorts of developments have been proven to reduce reliance on personal vehicles for commuting and errands. That is not only good for the environment but relieves the congestion and traffic associated with more remote developments.
- I will look for ways to encourage greater sharing of resources — building on the successes we have seen with the Divvy Bike and Zipcar programs. Over the past several years, a number of cities have embraced shared living and micro-unit developments that have not (as yet) been pursued in Evanston. We should study the benefits and costs associated with such developments and consider whether they would fill a need that we have in our City.
- I will work with the Council and staff to revise and strengthen Evanston’s Climate Action Plan to ensure that we reach our target of reducing greenhouse gases by 27% by 2020.
- I will push the new Council to renew our contract for green energy (which will expire in August 2017 unless renewed).
- I will continue to support the City’s efforts to regulate the use of pesticides including cooperation with neighboring communities in an aggressive lobbying effort to demand that the State of Illinois allow local regulation of pesticides to be governed by home rule.
- I will work to make Evanston more accessible for SAFE cycling — recognizing that this MUST start with a re-evaluation and possible re-thinking of some of our existing bike lanes.
- I will push for our City to achieve a 5-star rating (now 4-star) with STAR Communities (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating Communities).
- I will push for the Parks & Recreation Board to have greater control over the management of our open spaces — while the majority of our open spaces received a grade of “good” or higher in the 2016 Open Space Score Card the system as a whole received a grade of “C+”there is clearly room for improvement.
For more information about my approach to sustainability and the environment, please see my responses to the Citizens Greener Evanston survey here.