City manager candidate addresses concerns about transparency in city hall

City manager candidate Carol Mitten speaks to Evanston residents during a town hall on Thursday, July 28. Credit: City of Evanston YouTube

Last week, the City of Evanston announced that Carol Mitten, the current city manager of Urbana, Illinois, was the only finalist for the vacant position of city manager. Evanston has not had a permanent city manager in nearly 10 months, and two previous searches conducted this year ended without a final hire.

As part of the final decision-making process for City Council, Mitten answered questions from the public at a city hall event at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center on Thursday, July 28th.

Mayor Daniel Biss moderated the discussion and asked the questions, both sent online in advance and in person at city hall.

Entering Thursday’s conversation, however, several articles published by media outlets in the Urbana area began to circulate through Evanston’s community circles and groups. These articles allege that Mitten and other Urbana City officials violated the Open Meetings Act multiple times, failed to write a resident’s name and home address in an online document, and concealed police complaints.

After these allegations came to light, Evanston Fight for Black Lives – a local activist group that reflects “the values ​​of the national Black Lives Matter movement” – shared social media posts encouraging residents to ask council members to vote “no” in Mitten’s candidacy. to the municipal manager.

And at a virtual 8th Ward meeting held Thursday night just before town hall with Mitten, Council Member Devon Reid said that while he believes she is qualified for the role given her experience leading local government, he is concerned about the alleged lack of transparency. in Urban media articles.

In addition, he said he wanted the city to put forward more than one candidate, but Mitten dropped out of the latest city manager poll because he didn’t want to participate in a public forum with multiple candidates, according to Reid.

“Carol Mitten withdrew precisely because she didn’t want to be a part of the public engagement and frankly the reason we’re putting a single candidate out to the public right now and the reason we’re pitching it in a way that I think is doing more harm than good, it’s because the candidate herself, Carol Mitten, wouldn’t participate if there was a public process with multiple candidates,” Reid told his constituents at the 8th district meeting. “Those were her terms, and that sounds problematic.”

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