EVANSTON, IL — Ahead of Evanston’s upcoming municipal elections, Evanston Patch provided candidate questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot. The April 6 ballot will contain two candidates for Evanston city clerk, along with competitive races in eight wards, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office. After former Ald. Jane Grover pulled out of the
EVANSTON, IL — Ahead of Evanston’s upcoming municipal elections, Evanston Patch provided candidate questionnaires to all candidates on the ballot.
The April 6 ballot will contain two candidates for Evanston city clerk, along with competitive races in eight wards, according to the Cook County Clerk’s Office.
After former Ald. Jane Grover pulled out of the race in the face of a challenge to her nominating petitions, Stephanie Mendoza was the only candidate who filed sufficient nominating petitions to appear on last month’s primary ballot.
But six other candidates declared their intention to run as write-in candidates, which triggered a primary election under state law. The top vote-getter among those write-in candidates, Cynthia Beebe, secured enough votes to get her name on the ballot next month along with Mendoza.
Age (as of Election Day)
Town/City of Residence
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
BA, Loyola University (2017)
Major: Political science
Minor: Spanish literature
Community Engagement Specialist, Evanston Latinos (2020 – present)
Campaign Staffer (Campaign Manager, Deputy Manager, Field Organizer) (2016 – present)
Small Business Owner (2012 – present)
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
The single most pressing issue facing the Evanston’s city government is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
When I talk with Evanston residents, two things keep coming up: the need to increase transparency in government and the need to rebuild everyday people’s trust in government.
Those two things go hand-in-hand: increased transparency helps build the trust that’s necessary to accomplish the goals and overcome the challenges Evanston faces. That is why I am proposing ongoing training in how to submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, free to all residents.
I also hope to establish stronger ties between local and state/federal government representatives, and more importantly, between individual residents and their local government. I intend to create a City Clerk’s Office that functions as a strong advocate and liaison for every community in Evanston.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidate seeking this post?
As a child of immigrants and a young mother of three, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to the Clerk’s Office. As a longtime nonprofit professional focused on marginalized communities, I have the experience and skills to create a more inclusive office that better serves _every_ Evanstonian. I understand that accessing governmental information can be prohibitively difficult for many, including those who struggle with English language-only documents or with access to/familiar with the necessary technology, and have a plan to implement policies to improve access to information.
I also bring the skills and experience of a grassroots community organizer to the table. I have created progressive change by seeking partners and allies, listening and responding to the concerns of others, and amplifying the voices of people who too often go unheard.
As a small business owner and nonprofit professional, I am ready to handle the administrative responsibilities that the City Clerk position requires: managing staff, updating and maintaining best practices, and continuing to modernize our record-keeping systems.
I know that what residents need from this office is fast-tracked paperwork, easily accessible services, and clear communication. I’m running for this office to provide the kind of services I’ve wished we had over the years, and my number one priority will always be to serve you.
What do you consider the official duties and powers of the City Council as a whole? How about individual aldermen?
The City Council possesses the power to vote on issues affecting residents across the City of Evanston, and should act to represent the interests of residents accordingly. Aldermen, as representatives of their wards, should be the first to promote issues that will help improve their constituents’ quality of life.
What steps would you take to address the city’s budget challenges?
As a non-voting member of the Council, the Clerk cannot vote on budget issues. However, I hope to improve public participation in our government overall, so that when the City votes on budget challenges, they hear the voices of Evanston residents.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
My campaign is focused on bringing the community into the conversation. We plan to achieve this by modernizing the office: digitizing our records, encouraging online participation in City Council meetings even once it is safe for the Council to meet in person, and encouraging training to use digital resources. I also plan to implement equity training within the Clerk’s office, so our staff is better equipped to serve constituents, and to introduce staff who speak languages other than English so that we can serve our whole community.
So many of Evanston’s residents don’t know all the things that their government can and should be doing for them, or how to find that information. As Clerk, I intend to expand access services across the city through partnerships with the Evanston Public Library and our community centers; to increase translation services for our residents whose first language is not English; and to make the Clerk’s services more transparent so residents know where to find the information they need.
I also plan to encourage full transparency in the Clerk’s Office, particularly through encouraging citizen use of FOIA, increasing participation in government, and increasing voter turnout.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
As a former campaign manager and field organizer for many local campaigns, and the campaign coordinator for one of Illinois’s most historic write-in races, I’ve worked with voters across the Chicagoland area, managing data and mobilizing them to vote. I have learned to process information efficiently and be proactively responsive to the needs of voters. As a small business owner, I have experience in dealing with much of the paperwork that Evanston residents will be bringing to me, and I know how important it is to them that these papers be filed promptly and correctly. Lastly, as a nonprofit employee working in community engagement, I have a great deal of experience in dealing with the concerns of local residents, an essential part of being a successful Clerk. Working in the nonprofit sector has taught me the importance of collaboration between our city government and our local community organizations.
Why should voters trust you?
As the child of immigrants, the mother of three, and a small business owner, I’ve never been afraid of hard work and have always been held accountable. That’s how I have earned the trust and support/endorsement of so many local elected officials, including Jan Schakowsky, Laura Fine, and Robyn Gabel, along with numerous local organizations including the Democratic Party of Evanston, Evanston Fight for Black Lives, Independent Voters of Illinois – Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO), and Our Revolution.
If you win this position, what accomplishment would make your term in office as a success?
I hope that my term in office is marked by increased participation in local government. If I do my job right, more Evanston residents will know what their government can be doing for them, and they’ll be actively involved in advocating for themselves and their communities on a local level.
What are your views on fiscal policy, government spending and the handling of taxpayer dollars in the office you are seeking?
Over the years, the Clerk’s Office has received less money in the City budget. I hope to bring more revenue to the Clerk’s Office by expanding our services to include passport services, marriage registration, and other sources of revenue separate from taxpayers dollars. I plan to direct existing money already budgeted by the City into professional development for City Clerk staff so that we can give our constituents’ their money’s worth.
Do you support Black Lives Matter and what are your thoughts on the demonstrations held since the death of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake?
I believe unequivocally that Black Lives Matter. Systemic racism and anti-Blackness are real problems that every community, including Evanston, must grapple with. Race still plays an outsized role in every aspect of our lives and that is unconscionable. No matter who we are or what we do, racism holds all of us back. Protesting is a constitutional right, and an avenue for people to raise their voices against injustice.
Do you think the current board has done enough to support racial equality, and if not, what specifically should be done to do so?
The Board has taken some healthy steps toward equity, but for impactful change and a fully unbiased government, we need to give more power to our Equity and Empowerment Commission. The current moment calls for new policies that will help end systemic racism on all levels of our government. I believe that the Equity and Empowerment Commission should be an independent body that works with our City but for all the residents of Evanston.
What are your thoughts on the national and local coronavirus response? Do you favor measures such as limiting operation of non-essential businesses and restricting indoor/outdoor dining? And do you favor a local mask mandate?
I have been a part of the COVID response in Evanston since day one, helping distribute food and resources to families in need. I’m very proud of the community response, and I hope that moving forward we can integrate our efforts more with the national and local response. The Clerk’s Office does not have decision-making powers over the limiting of non-essential businesses or a mask mandate, but I do favor continuing a mask-mandate within the Clerk’s Office until City staff and constituents are fully vaccinated.
What are your thoughts on the state and local coronavirus vaccine distribution, and how do you think local governments should work together to handle vaccine rollout?
Vaccine rollout has understandably been difficult, but I’m pleased to see it getting well underway and more streamlined in the last few weeks. I support local governments sharing vaccination records to further streamline the vaccination process. I support local governments using data to make vaccines available to the most vulnerable in our community, particularly underserved communities who have been infected at higher rates.
Is there any reason you would not serve your full term of office, other than those of health or family?
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Try everything once. There’s no point in dismissing something before you’ve tried it, and you never know where those new avenues could take you.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I raised my family and worked full-time while earning my undergraduate degree, eventually starting a successful local business with my husband that we continue to operate today.
Some of the truly wonderful community organizations in Evanston were key in helping me succeed, including the Childcare Network of Evanston, Infant Welfare Society, and Reba Early Learning Center. My experience inspired me to serve in several community service roles, including Policy Council President for the Childcare Network of Evanston, Reba Early Learning Center Board President, and as an interpreter for District 65 schools.
Currently, I serve as Director of Community Outreach for Evanston Latinos, which promotes equity and inclusion for the immigrant, undocumented community, mixed-status families and Latinx community in Evanston. I also recently served as a Prevention Specialist for Connections for the Homeless, where I worked with individuals and families struggling with housing.
I am a 9th ward resident and have lived in Evanston for 10 years, with her husband Edwin and 3 children: Emir (10), Sahir (8), and Alina (16 months).