2017 (Primary) Election 5th Ward Candidate Survey Responses

Candidates for Alderman, Ward 5

Carlis B. Sutton

Misty Witenberg

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Carlis B. Sutton

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

Recycling and maintaining an organic garden. Composting and rain barrel collecting.
I have planted three trees on my properties.
I maintain reasonable use of utilities: Greenlite lightbulbs, weatherization around windows and doors, water usage on early morning or late evenings.

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:

My primary issue at this time is to provide assistance to senior citizens. Many of my concerns are environmentally related. Access to food, shelter and transportation.

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 have always tried to reduce my carbon footprint.

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 have always been interested in utilizing as much solar as possible but have been concerned with the cost of conversion.

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:

Having lost two mature trees on my property I am very interested in the city letting private taxpayers have access to treat both Dutch Elm and Emerald Beetle tree
diseases. I would appreciate them assisting us as vigilant as they are at fining us.

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

Yes

Please explain:

Having pets and organic gardens on my property I am very concerned about limiting chemicals.

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

No

Please explain:

I met with the city and was concerned about alternative routes through my community I was marginalized and ignored.

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 first step was rain barrels available to citizens. I am concerned that developers require the city to provide the infrastructure and pass the cost to the taxpayers.
The age of the water delivery pipes (lead) to our homes need to be replaced as well as developing an infrastructure to sell water to other suburbs.

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?

Increase the subsidies to the Farmer’s Market and educate families about processed foods to their children that create diabetes and obesity.

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

I have worked with young people as a teacher and mentor and have always encouraged them to know their worth and to be prepared when opportunities are available. We have to take responsibility in our community to address our participation in the political process, to provide options to violence (employment and recreation)and educate our youth about contacts with law enforcement to prevent escalation. The city should work with the community cooperatively to increase these
opportunities.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Evanston has the admirable position of having an involved and educated electorate. I seek to expand the opportunity for communication and collaboration
for more inclusion and diversity. I am interested in solving problems collectively to make Evanston a livable city for all of the residents.

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Misty Witenberg

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

Within our home, we focus on small everyday approaches, such as using eco-friendly diapers, recycling, opting for the Homefield Energy Community Choice Electricity Aggregation, and using the city’s bike program and mass transit for daily commutes.

In my role as a local Girl Scout leader, I led our troop’s most recent service project in conservation. Called the Save Water program, the girls learned to be environmental advocates, using awareness efforts within their school about ways to save water and the importance of not using plastic water bottles. Their posters included facts such as, “It takes 3 gallons of water to make the plastic for every gallon water bottled.”

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:

These are difficult issues to unravel and prioritize, but I would say 2, directly after equity issues. However, the efforts and strategies I want to use in addressing the other issues are largely entwined with conservation efforts. For example, improving the energy-efficiency of low-income households that have energy burdens 3 times higher on average than other households. But also using an online portal to deliver newsletters and other information to ward residents, and only using paper newsletters for offline residents who opt-in.

Within the larger context, Evanston is already prominent for its eco-friendly advances, so it makes sense to amplify on those efforts while also aligning our strategies within the context of best serving residents.

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 also support the city’s decision for an opt-out program to as a way to allow greater bargaining power to lower the supply costs for both the city and residents. As CCAs are competitive non-profit agencies, they will likely continue to be a sustainable way to reduce emissions without overburdening consumers.

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 would advocate for exploring a variety of energy efficiency financing options and grants. However, as most of these programs aren’t required to provide the same cost disclosures as traditional lenders, and often have higher lending rates, as a city we will also have to integrate consumer protections to ensure the affordability and sustainability for homeowners who participate.

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:

Trees not only add to property values, they can also lower energy bills (when providing shade to homes) and enhance air quality among other benefits. However, I would like the city to develop a strategy for this that fits within long-term liveability efforts. For example, one issue that has arisen in communities with a similar ordinance is that the cost of removing or replacing a tree that has died or has become a risk to public safety or property damage, has been placed on the property owner, as have fines for unknowingly trimming or removing a tree without a permit. So it would be important to me that we outline our outreach in effectively informing property owners of the ordinance, specifically those who have protected trees on their property.

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

Yes

Please explain:

Awareness outreach, gaining resident feedback and addressing concerns is key to building support for these type of regulations. Some cities have been successful in this by initially making the ordinance penalty-free, but with written warnings. They then transition to assessing increasing fines for violations. During that time, efforts to ensure residents understand pesticide health and environmental risks, offering community education and demonstrations of alternative lawn maintenance methods, and making non-pesticide and EPA minimum risk pesticides more available and affordable will assist in these efforts.

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

Yes

Please explain:

My husband uses the bike program every day to ride to the train station, and it has been enormously useful for us as we only have one car. Again, building support is key here, as is involving stakeholders who may have been left out of previous conversations, such as emergency services teams, so that we can ensure the safest and most effective implementation. Community outreach about joining the bike programs, bike safety, and efforts to grow the ridership is vital in ensuring the program’s affordability and sustainability.

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?

Incentivizing private Green Infrastructure installation should begin with education on long-term cost savings, environmental impact reduction, various adaptive approaches and ways to achieve aesthetically pleasing results. Highlighting successful installations and/or allowing community tours of them can further stimulate new installations, gradually building social influence. When applicable, offering rebates and other financial incentives that can increase the affordability of initial costs can also boost participation.

Green Infrastructure on public land will also require public support. Because of the cost-intensiveness of GI, it’s important to ensure the city is measuring the performance of each intended method under a variety of environmental and site-specific settings within smaller, pilot programs on existing infrastructure. After determining the most effective methods for each site, evaluating maintenance costs and expected results, the city can move to large-scale implementation. These efforts will aid in the city’s success rate in estimating results and costs, better enabling them to manage public expectations and deter public resistance for future GI investments.

Additionally, consulting with urban ecologists, environmental consultants, city planners and other stakeholders during the planning and design phases will reduce the likelihood of costly post-delivery alterations. Presented effectively, these designs can also rally public support and better allow impacted residents in see beyond construction-related inconveniences. And finally, we should continue to look to GI grant programs and inter-agency partners to help offset costs to the city.

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?

In regards to overall food insecurity, I advocate for a city assessment of regional and demographic disparities in health outcomes. The tactics used to address these disparities should consider residents’ accessibility to healthy foods, affordability and preparation competency. Potential solutions to improve accessibility and convenience could include incentivizing corner and convenience stores to stock a certain amount of fresh fruit, additionally providing the resources to help the business move the product. We should also explore more innovative measures, such as produce trucks and pop-up markets, with affordably priced produce that accept EBT.

I also want to explore available locations for year-round community greenhouses and hydroponic gardens, prioritizing suitable locations that do not have fresh produce available within reasonable walking distance or public transit access. Organizing a co-op approach not only makes produce more affordable, but it also provides additional community building and can improve health inequities, particularly for children. Further support and resources, through community cooking demonstrations, cookbooks, cook-offs and community meals will be necessary to optimize participation and preparation proficiency. The city should explore funding for projects through federal and state grants, as well as public-private partnerships.

The city should also work to maximize participation of eligible youth in the Summer Youth Food Service Program, as well as senior participation in the various available programs.

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

I’m a member of the National Resources Defense Council, a program that acts collectively to advance environmental equity.

The city can promote environmental justice by first evaluating and identifying inequitable environmental distribution outcomes so we can effectively shape tactics to resolve the issues facing underserved residents. This evaluation should include energy efficiency and weatherization affordability, health outcomes, air quality, green infrastructure, access to green space and healthy food, soil contamination levels, and other environmental degradation. As this issue is particularly compelling to young people, it is also a tremendous opportunity to involve them in volunteering and advocacy.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:

Thank you for your consideration.

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