Can you inform me about the issue of campaign spending on the Mayor’s race?
On February 28th, over 10,000 voters participated in an Evanston Mayoral Primary, the first one since 1993. I was honored to receive the highest level of support by voters in every single ward of our city. Throughout the primary campaign, I was also grateful to receive the endorsements of over 800 Evanston leaders and residents from every ward, including Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Former Mayor Lorraine Morton and Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, Delores Holmes and Eleanor Revelle.
Some of my political opponents have claimed that this type of community support was somehow ‘bought and paid for.’ Let me set the record straight: nothing could be further from the truth and to suggest this denigrates the hard work of all those who volunteered for me, the integrity of those who endorsed me, the intelligence of the over 4,400 people who voted for me, and the consistent commitment my wife and I have made to this community for over 10 years.
The extraordinary turnout of Evanstonians in every neighborhood who believed in our campaign and our message was a culmination of a seven-month effort that our supporters across the city and I began last summer. When we began the campaign, we knew we were facing long odds. While I had been involved in Evanston community organizations and initiatives for over 13 years and had strong experience in the field of municipal governance, I had never run for office before. I had never appeared on a ballot before. We knew we would be facing competitors who had far more political seasoning.
As it turned out, I was the only candidate who had not held or run for political office before. My competitors included two sitting Aldermen, our former Township Supervisor, and a respected activist who has run strong campaigns for State Representative and County Commissioner. To make our road even more challenging, two candidates tried to kick me off the ballot, citing conflicting information over our city’s election process.
Last summer, we set to work building a professional campaign to spread the word about my record in the community and my vision for Evanston. I knew that this would take resources; as anyone who follows politics knows. I made a personal investment in my campaign, and hundreds of supporters across the city supported our campaign with donations as well. In fact, even though I’m a political outsider, my campaign raised more money from more Evanstonians than any of the other candidates. I make no apology for that; I was humbled by and grateful for the investment that others have chosen to make to support my campaign.
We started early and we used our resources wisely. Right out of the gate, we built a comprehensive website to highlight my policy positions. We invested in door hangers, flyers and digital ads to get the word out about the importance of early voting – and standing up for Evanston values of tolerance and equality – in the crucial November General election. We advertised in community newspapers – both online and in print. We hired Evanston residents to help handle the operations of our campaign. We bought buttons, pens, yard signs and other materials with www.SteveHagerty.com on them to help encourage more voters to learn about my positions on our website. We did five direct mail pieces, which provided information about early voting and election day polling place information and which focused on letters from Evanstonians from all walks of life who are supporting our campaign.
In January and February alone, I participated in 53 coffees and forums. I spent hundreds of hours on the phone and on e-mail answering questions and explaining my positions to voters. My volunteers and I handed out literature in the freezing cold – at train stations and other community gathering spots. My supporters and I stood outside the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center early voting location in the fall of 2016 – when I wasn’t even on the ballot – and we stood outside in February 2017 when I was.
We know this seven months of hard work, by our campaign volunteers, staff, and supporters, was reflected in the overwhelming support we earned in every neighborhood, precinct, and ward in this city on election day. This support was not bought; it reflects a genuine desire for bold, dynamic leadership in a city that faces its share of challenges. On April 4th, I ask that you put political charges aside and vote for the candidate who shares your values, your vision, and your commitment to this city.