Residents slam search for city manager, runner-up at city council meeting

Daily archive photo by Jacob Wendler

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. Evanston residents have expressed concern over the search for a new city manager and recently announced runner-up Carol Mitten at Monday’s city council meeting.

After the city announcement Carol Mitten as Evanston’s only finalist for city manager, residents turned out for Monday’s city council meeting to voice their concerns about the nominee and the 14-month city manager selection process.

The city announced last week that Mitten, the city administrator of Urbana, was the finalist for the position of city manager. For the previous two unsuccessful city manager searches, the city announced two candidates and held a town hall meeting with them. In this third search, Mitten is the only finalist and a town hall is scheduled for Thursday.

“There remains a real concern that we still don’t have a streamlined process for hiring the most powerful job in town,” Evanston resident Trisha Connolly said. said.

The city manager is responsible for managing the city’s budget, navigating the city’s various goals, and filling vacancies. Mayor Daniel Biss described the city manager as the “CEO of the Town of Evanston” at a town hall meeting earlier this month.

Betsy Wilson, mitigation specialist at Evanston’s Sentencing Advocacy Group, noted Evanston’s opacity in response to lakeside sexual misconduct in 2021, which ultimately led to the former director’s resignation Municipal Erika Storlie. Wilson urged council to prioritize transparency over speed when selecting a new city manager.

“What we need to take away from this debacle is that transparency in our municipal government is key,” Wilson said. “Therefore, I think it’s important that we don’t hire Carol Mitten as city manager.”

After Mitten was publicly named the sole finalist, Evanston Fight for Black Lives criticized Mitten’s record with police oversight boards, referring to her claim that Urbana’s civilian police review board did not has no authority to determine whether a police officer has used a taser inappropriately.

Wilson said Mitten’s career at Urbana shows she won’t prioritize transparency. Mitten supported Urbana City Council members who suggested they should not tape an offsite meeting in February, which Wilson said circumvented Illinois’ open meeting law.

Residents said there was no rush to find a permanent city manager, especially after acting city manager Luke Stowe took over on July 12.

“I fear the town hall scheduled for this Thursday is just for show, and that Evanston will repeat past mistakes and hire someone who is not fully committed to transparency, fairness and accountability. inclusion,” Rospenda said.

After 14 months of searching for candidates and spending $95,000 on search firms, residents will have a chance to share their opinions at City Hall Thursday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center.

“With each iteration of this process, it has become less transparent with less public participation in the decision than the previous time,” Rospenda said.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @saullpink

Related stories:

City Council selects finalist for City Managers, plans to host July 27 forum

A timeline of the search for the City Manager of Evanston

Mayor Daniel Biss discusses turbulent search for city manager at town hall forum

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