2017 Election 3rd Ward Candidate Survey Responses

Candidates for Alderman, Ward 3

Alex Block

Alex Morgan

Melissa A. Wynne

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Alex Block

1. What have you done in your personal life to reduce your environmental impact?

I have made three serious commitments in order to reduce my environmental impact. First, to avoid driving, I take public transportation whenever possible. Even though it takes a little longer, I commute everyday to work on the L or the Metra. Second, I only meat or fish that has been sustainably raised. Finally, I make a conscious choice to install energy efficient lightbulbs and appliances in my home.

2. With “1” being most important and “5” least important, how important are environmental issues relative to the many other issues faced by the City of Evanston?

2

Please explain:

Evanston is in the midst of an affordability crisis that risks pushing people out of their homes and jeopardizing everything that makes our City special. That should be any Alderman’s first priority. The environment is a close second. While climate change is a global crisis that requires a global response, it is the responsibility of local communities to do all they can to be a part of the solution. Evanston’s dog beach is gone and, in 2016, Lake Michigan saw the greatest fluctuation of its height in recorded history. It’s time for Evanston to be on the forefront of protecting our environment and eliminating our carbon footprint. I will champion that cause.

3. Evanston is on track for 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from 2005 to 2016. Would you support revising the Evanston Climate Action Plan to reflect the Compact of Mayors target of 27% by 2020?

Yes

4. Community Aggregation with 100% renewable energy has been the biggest single factor in reducing Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions. Do you support continuing this program?

Yes

Please explain:

I will double-down on Evanston’s community aggregation program. The program reduces our carbon-footprint and keeps utility costs low. As a community organizer, I went to door-to-door in Cincinnati to defend their community aggregation program which was one of the first in the nation and a model for other cities. But we need to do more. Evanston must enter into a power purchase agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing, and installation of a 100% carbon neutral energy system. By adopting this innovative approach, following the lead of cities like Washington DC and Palo Alto, Evanston will reduce its carbon-footprint and play a pivotal role in saving the planet.

5. Would you support a local PACE or other financing initiative to fund energy efficiency and solar investments for Evanston homes and businesses?

Yes

Please explain:

It is becoming more and more clear that green solutions aren’t just good for the environment but that they’re also good for the economy. As alderman, I will fight to fund green energy initiatives that make good business sense and help reduce our carbon footprint. PACE projects are exciting because they offer the potential for individualized solutions that allow small-businesses and local homeowners to take the steps they need to protect the environment and capitalize on their existing assets all without breaking the bank.

6. Most North Shore communities protect trees on both public and private property.  Would you support an Evanston ordinance that would protect trees in a manner comparable to these other communities?

Yes

Please explain:

Evanston is known for its trees. Our canopy isn’t just about beauty for beauty sake; it’s one of Evanston’s key selling points. If we lose our trees we lose one of the reasons people are attracted to Evanston. A vibrant and exciting Evanston depends on protecting our trees. That’s why I support following the lead of other comparable communities and protecting one of our greatest assets on private and public lands.

7. Would you push for local regulation of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, and help Evanston pass an ordinance regulating them?

Yes

Please explain:

Pesticides, like neonicotinoids, have a horrible impact on the environment. They affect insect populations which, when disrupted, can destabilize entire ecosystems. There is also a growing body of research which concludes pesticides have real human costs by inducing cancer and other life threatening diseases. These chemicals have no place in Evanston.

8. Do you support the full implementation of the Evanston Bike Plan?

Yes

Please explain:

Bicyclists reduce our carbon footprint and decongest traffic. They also make room for more parking spaces. While we can’t haphazardly install bike lanes (there needs to be room for emergency vehicles and bus stops, for example), full implementation of the Evanston Bike Plan is essential.

9. Despite significant sewer improvements and drainage regulations, continued development and unpredictable rainfall patterns are expected to intensify future flooding. What city incentives do you recommend to promote private rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavement, and other such steps? How should the city proceed to implement such steps on public land?

The City should require new, 25-plus unit developments to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credentials. Additionally, the City should further incentivize homeowners and landlords to install rain gardens, solar panels, green roofs, and porous pavement. On public land, the City should continue to invest in planting new trees to increase the City’s canopy. As alderman, I will fight for a reimagined City landscaping plan that prioritizes native plants and introduces bird and butterfly habbitats wherever possible.

10. The Evanston Producemobile program suggests that as many as 14% of Evanston residents may be food insecure.  What will you do to be sure all people in Evanston have enough food, and healthy food, to eat?

I will support vigorous reinvestment in Evanston’s most underprivileged neighborhoods. Those who live in communities in which they are unable to find healthy food are least likely to live dignified, upwardly mobile lives. Therefore, the City must commission and implement a ten-year plan to invigorate Evanston’s least prosperous neighborhoods with new locally-owned and operated businesses, greater access to public transportation, and high-quality affordable housing. Taking these steps will build vibrant local economies in our least privileged communities giving our neighbors who live there access to fresh and healthy food.

11. In your past experience, what have you done to support environmental justice? How might the City promote environmental justice?

As a community organizer I went door-to-door rallying neighborhoods against coal companies which were polluting their water and their children. In Evanston, I ignited a successful grassroots movement to protect public parkland from privatization. My record on environmental justice is strong. Moving forward, the City must prioritize people over profits and fix the issues which stem from the 5th Ward’s waste-transfer station – issues that disproportionately affect communities of color.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Evanston should never settle for second-best or be satisfied with an A-. That’s true when it comes to any issue and it’s true when it comes to protecting the environment. Block by block, I will lead Evanston towards a more sustainable future. That’s what it means to be real Evanston. And that’s what real progress looks like.

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Alex Morgan

1. What have you done in your personal life to reduce your environmental impact?

When I taught kindergarten, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was one of my classroom mantras and rules and is a practice I’ve always worked to instill in my personal life. My partner Juli and I try to refrain from buying things that we don’t need, purchasing things with excessive packaging, or investing in larger items (e.g. automobiles) that consume more resources. As citizens, we’re advocates of local initiatives like municipal aggregation, state legislation like the Clean Jobs Bill, and federal actions like the Clean Power Plan and Paris Agreement. Professionally, I’ve worked for candidates endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club (Brad Schneider), served as an organizer for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Waukegan, and advocate for progressive candidates as Executive Director of the Progressive Turnout Project. Additionally, in my current role as a manager, I try to do things like incentivize the use of public transportation by providing stipends to employees who utilize that option. If elected 3rd Ward Alderman, I will be an environmental champion for all of us.

2. With “1” being most important and “5” least important, how important are environmental issues relative to the many other issues faced by the City of Evanston?

1

Please explain:

I don’t think that the environment is any less important than any other issue. I’m sure many folks are saying that in response to your question, but I firmly believe that the environment intersects with many of our other top issues. When we talk about issues of access, crime, equity, and/or poverty, we have to think about the plurality of public spaces in more affluent areas versus low-income areas. When we talk about issues of public health, we have to think about the environmental investments we need to make in our infrastructure (water delivery, power production, sewers, etc). When we think about budgets and cost savings we need to think about the long-term benefits of green investments. Also, many residents have been talking with me about rats, which I think we can address by taking on food waste! As Alderman, I will make the environment a priority and I will look at issues through an environmental lens before casting a vote.

3. Evanston is on track for 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from 2005 to 2016. Would you support revising the Evanston Climate Action Plan to reflect the Compact of Mayors target of 27% by 2020?

Yes

4. Community Aggregation with 100% renewable energy has been the biggest single factor in reducing Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions. Do you support continuing this program?

Yes

Please explain:

Our collective investment in renewable energy gives it strength.

5. Would you support a local PACE or other financing initiative to fund energy efficiency and solar investments for Evanston homes and businesses?

Yes

Please explain:

I believe government plays a pivotal role in making energy efficiency and renewable energy achievable for all residents and building owners.

6. Most North Shore communities protect trees on both public and private property.  Would you support an Evanston ordinance that would protect trees in a manner comparable to these other communities?

Yes

Please explain:

Yes although I know many residents worry that this may create more procedural hurdles at City Hall. In addition to supporting such an ordinance, I will work with residents to understand it and be there for them when they need help navigating any issues with the city.

7. Would you push for local regulation of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, and help Evanston pass an ordinance regulating them?

Yes

Please explain:

Yes and I will be active in making sure that we adhere to the ordinance as well.

8. Do you support the full implementation of the Evanston Bike Plan?

Yes

Please explain:

I do although I believe the city has done a poor job communicating with entities like CTA to ensure the plan works with existing transit routes. The blow up over the bike lanes on Dodge Avenue should have never happened and put a black eye on bike lanes in Evanston.

9. Despite significant sewer improvements and drainage regulations, continued development and unpredictable rainfall patterns are expected to intensify future flooding. What city incentives do you recommend to promote private rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavement, and other such steps? How should the city proceed to implement such steps on public land?

The City of Evanston holds a lot of public meetings. I’m not opposed to public meetings. In fact, I’ve promised to hold monthly ward meetings and weekly office hours. That said, the vast majority of Evanstonians do not attend the city’s public meetings. As 3rd Ward Alderman, I’ll continue going door-to-door talking with residents in my ward. I’ll talk to them about rain gardens, green roofs, and porous pavements. I’ll talk to them about the benefits. I’ll ask them what they need from the city to get it done. Additionally, I’ll be a voice to support legislation from good folks like State Rep. Laura Fine, who want to ban the use and sale of Coal Tar Sealants. At the city level, we must require that new projects are green projects, and that we get on a schedule to replace old infrastructure with green infrastructure.

10. The Evanston Producemobile program suggests that as many as 14% of Evanston residents may be food insecure.  What will you do to be sure all people in Evanston have enough food, and healthy food, to eat?

Food insecurity and economic inequality go hand in hand. As 3rd Ward Alderman, I’ll make sure that we as a city are doing everything that we can to connect folks who need a job with a local business that needs an employee. Additionally, as a member of the City Council, I push to make sure we’re working on achieving a livable wage in Evanston, so that residents don’t have to decide whether they’re going to pay the rent, the electric bill, or buy good groceries this month. Of course I will continue to support great initiatives like the Producemobile and I want to see us promote residential and community gardens, but 14 percent is too high a number to combat with these initiatives alone.

11. In your past experience, what have you done to support environmental justice? How might the City promote environmental justice?

If you can, I hope that you will check out the National Geographic Years of Living Dangerously episode that highlighted Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign work in Waukegan (http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/the-coal-wars/). When I worked as the campaign’s lead organizer, I helped take an older, whiter, suburban initiative, and worked to build an inclusive environmental justice campaign that represented the city’s residents. Both the Día de los Muertos march and the City Council petition delivery highlighted in the episode were the culmination of a year’s work of organizing. Environmental justice isn’t just about bringing resources to a community. Environmental justice is about a community having its voice heard and making its own decisions. I’m proud to say that I think Waukegan is turning a corner. I think this April they’re going to elect a mayor who will be an environmental and public health champion. I’m proud to have played a part in that campaign. While Evanston and Waukegan are different communities, we are interconnected when it comes to the environment and justice. I want to make sure that as a city we’re doing everything we can to pioneer green initiatives. As 3rd Ward Alderman, I want to make sure every voice in my ward and in our city is heard and that we’re doing everything we can to provide our residents with the best quality of life.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Thank you for all the work you do to make Evanston a greener community. I look forward to working with you.

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Melissa A. Wynne

1. What have you done in your personal life to reduce your environmental impact?

I and my family have long worked hard to reduce our carbon footprint and live sustainably. First, we are careful about transportation-related consumption of fossil fuels: we drive a Prius (50+ mpg), we minimize our driving and we walk/bike as many places as possible. Second, we have also taken a number of steps to reduce energy and water consumption in our house: (a) we have retrofitted with a high-efficiency HVAC system; (b) we avoid using the A/C except on the most blazingly hot days, and we keep our winter time heat at between 65 and 68 degrees; (c) we have installed high-tech double-pane windows where possible; (d) our kitchen has high-efficiency Energy Star appliances; (e) we have low-flow water faucets; and (f) we have converted to CFL and LED lighting wherever possible. Third, in our landscaping, we have eliminated the use of herbicides and pesticides in our lawn maintenance and gardening. Fourth, I and my husband were heavy supporters of a major energy conservation renovation of our church – see article in the Evanston Roundtable, “St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Renovated and Accessible,” www.evanstonroundtable.com/main.asp?SectionID=4&SubSectionID=4…13135.

2. With “1” being most important and “5” least important, how important are environmental issues relative to the many other issues faced by the City of Evanston?

1

Please explain:

I consider environmental/sustainability initiatives to be a top priority of Evanston because such measures are essential to the survival of the planet, and each of us. Each governmental unit, including that of our City, must be part of the effort necessary for us to survive.

3. Evanston is on track for 20% greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction from 2005 to 2016. Would you support revising the Evanston Climate Action Plan to reflect the Compact of Mayors target of 27% by 2020?

Yes

4. Community Aggregation with 100% renewable energy has been the biggest single factor in reducing Evanston’s greenhouse gas emissions. Do you support continuing this program?

Yes

Please explain:

I was a strong supporter of this program and will continue be an advocate for it on the Council. It has saved, and will continue to save significant expense for every single household in Evanston through reduced electricity costs, while at the same time assisting in the growth of the renewable energy industry in the USA.

5. Would you support a local PACE or other financing initiative to fund energy efficiency and solar investments for Evanston homes and businesses?

Yes

Please explain:

Yes, I support this excellent policy initiative. It provides the incentives needed to encourage investment in energy efficiency/renewable energy/water conservation measures by making them affordable for a wide range of commercial, non-profit and residential property owners.

6. Most North Shore communities protect trees on both public and private property.  Would you support an Evanston ordinance that would protect trees in a manner comparable to these other communities?

Yes

Please explain:

Yes. Trees are a critical part of our environmental infrastructure, and we must do everything we can to protect them on both public and private property. I was a strong supporter of the Dutch Elm injection program for all City trees, and believe the City made a wise decision in implementing that program.

7. Would you push for local regulation of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, and help Evanston pass an ordinance regulating them?

Yes

Please explain:

Yes. Evanston has already reduced its usage of pesticides in our parks, and we need to continue on this path. The evidence of significant health and eco-system harm from such chemicals compels us to move forward with pesticide regulation.

8. Do you support the full implementation of the Evanston Bike Plan?

Yes

Please explain:

I have long been a strong proponent of “Complete Streets” that are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and all forms of motor vehicles. I have been an advocate for Evanston’s Bike Plan since it was first introduced, and will continue that strong support in the future.

9. Despite significant sewer improvements and drainage regulations, continued development and unpredictable rainfall patterns are expected to intensify future flooding. What city incentives do you recommend to promote private rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavement, and other such steps? How should the city proceed to implement such steps on public land?

The City has, with my support, implemented the use of porous pavements in its parking lots, and is continuing to experiment with a variety of porous surfacing materials to determine what will work best. Also with my support, we have created several rain gardens throughout the City. Going forward, I believe that with changing weather patterns, it is imperative that we continue on this path, increasing the number of rain gardens, choosing more native plantings, and encouraging the full range of other water runoff mitigation measures.

10. The Evanston Producemobile program suggests that as many as 14% of Evanston residents may be food insecure.  What will you do to be sure all people in Evanston have enough food, and healthy food, to eat?

I have been a strong proponent of community gardens and of classes to teach healthy eating, healthy food preparation, and sustainable vegetable growing in home & community gardens. I often cite to the leadership of our former First Lady, Michelle Obama, who set a sterling example in her 8 years in the White House, advocating for the vital role of home gardens and healthy eating. We have made important strides in our community already on this front, with the ETHS Edible Acre and Talking Farm programs being particularly impressive public efforts. But such efforts are also being made in less prominent settings of civic, charitable and religious organizations around our City – for example, my church (St. Paul’s Lutheran) last year launched a community vegetable garden with a particular focus on supplying healthful foods to the Soup Kitchen we operate, while also initiating classes to teach healthy eating and food preparation to our Soup Kitchen guests.

11. In your past experience, what have you done to support environmental justice? How might the City promote environmental justice?

In my personal life, I am a committed member of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In my governmental roles, during my service on the Evanston Environmental Board, I was a strong proponent of our initiative to eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides from the landscaping protocol for our City’s parks.

On the City Council, I have been a longtime champion for a wide range of green initiatives in our City. I strongly supported: the creation of the Sustainability Coordinator position within our budget; the Green Building Ordinance; the Energy Benchmark Ordinance; and the Electrical Aggregation Program, which results in significant savings to every household in Evanston. I was the deciding vote on eliminating plastic bags in Evanston. I supported the conversion of our City fleet to vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel and I will advocate for the transition to 100% electric vehicles. I believe we need to renew our citizen education program regarding recycling procedures and we need to develop programs to allow all Evanston residents to recycle, even those in large multi-family buildings. I support the initiatives of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, including their weatherization/energy efficiency program and their promotion of natural habitat in Evanston to protect our pollinators and birds.

Finally, I strongly supported the City’s efforts to excise the Veolia Garbage Transfer Station from the 5th Ward – a siting decision that clearly evidenced environmental racism at work.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Much of my focus on the Council has been on protecting and enhancing the unique natural and environmental assets of the 3rd Ward. I came to the Council with a firm grasp on environmental policy from my law practice (I specialized in environmental law) and from my volunteer work on the Environmental Board. I leveraged that knowledge to help craft the Lakefront Master Plan that protects and preserves our lakefront as non-commercial and open to all. The lakefront is our largest open space in the Ward and a critical quality of life asset that enriches the lives of all Evanstonians.

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