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Was Carol Mitten Right for Evanston?

Carol Mitten

How did Carol Mitten make it to be the finalist in becoming Evanston’s next City Manager? Evanston’s population is about 41% non-white residents as of 2021. Evanston prides itself on being diverse. We became a “Sanctuary City”. We are the “pioneer” to “reparations”. But yet…city council was ready to rush to hire a candidate who admitted she has no skills in dealing racial equity and admitted to racial equity not being any sort of real priority to her as a leader. She comes from Urbana, Illinois where making statements like that…she felt very comfortable and saw no issue with saying it. That was concerning and quite disturbing to many residents.
Former City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz cost the City of Evanston in discrimination lawsuits. Erika Storlie didn’t last a year as the official City Manager based on alleged corruption and poor judgement. Ramos and Fournier rejected their offers to be our City Manager. Fournier had a suspect background when it came to racial equity, but the council was going to push him through anyway. These two candidates made a choice to take other positions. That had nothing to do with Evanston activists. Interim City Manager Kelley Gandurski took another position elsewhere before we could find a City Manager. Clearly she was ready to move on. Luke Stowe is known in the Evanston community and has stepped up as Interim City Manager, but yet some members of council are rushing to fill the position without doing thorough background checks. We do not need a City Manager who will be another walking liability. And who removed racial equity as one of the many criteria for the City Manager position? It was criteria for the previous searches. But for Mitten, that criteria was removed by the hiring firm. Who gave them that instruction?
Mitten stated she had a relationship with the NAACP in Champaign County that handles Urbana. The organization was called and they said,”We reach out to everyone! Carol Mitten has never made herself visible to us!” When she was asked about this in the town hall meeting, she took a drink of water and said she worked in the back office and that it was really on the Mayor to have that relationship. So why lie, projecting a relationship she never had? In the case of the young Black woman in Urbana Aleyah Lewis, Mitten said Lewis wasn’t hurt during her arrest, but that the police officer who kicked her in the head and ribs was the one hurt. This speaks to her mentality towards public safety, police brutality, and humanity period.
Mitten came across as if she knew she had the position already and if anyone who didn’t support her leadership…oh well. Is she intentionally being brought in to assist certain City Council members in doing the dirty work? The residents were definitely going to be watching to see who voted in favor of Carol Mitten because it would have spoken volumes to underlying motivations. While Evanston needs a City Manager who has knowledge and expertise of budgets and finance, they also have to have skills in racial equity, public safety, and environmental issues coming to a city like Evanston. Bottom line…this person has to move numbers as well as actually care. It looks suspect that certain City Council members and even some residents, who are blaming other residents for simply caring, are willing to X out the racial equity criteria. Maybe Evanston isn’t as liberal or diverse or anti racist as it projects.
It was very un-democratic to have a town hall meeting where the process blocked the residents from speaking. Fortunately, Evanston has residents who care enough to be heard anyway. And had those caring residents not asked the right questions of the candidate who was seriously being looked at to lead this city, that very telling recording would not have been recorded…that spoke truth. That recording spoke volumes. No one forced Mitten to say what she said. And there was actually more that the public did not hear. But that video clip pretty much said it all. Many residents believed they didn’t need to see anymore. Mitten was speaking her truth. Some residents want to blame community activists for why Evanston can’t keep a City Manager. An activist had nothing to do with Wally’s discrimination lawsuits and other moves he made. He resigned after years of being protected by certain council members. An activist had nothing to do with the decisions Erika Storlie made in an independent investigation to a sexual misconduct/assault cover-up. She resigned on her own. An activist had nothing to do with Ramos deciding to move to Texas for a better deal for himself and his family. An activist had nothing to do with Fournier’s negotiations with the City of Evanston nor him choosing a deal that was best for him and his family. And an activist had nothing to do with Mitten speaking her truth in a recording. She was supported by a majority of the City Council, until she spoke her truth in meetings at the Civic Center. Since when does City Council not do what they want, regardless to how the residents feel about it? Activists fought long and hard to stop the bleeding of the budget to build Robert Crown. Is a monstrous building called Robert Crown not sitting there today on Main & Dodge?
If City Council really wanted Mitten, she would be sitting at her desk in the Civic Center right now smelling her congratulations flowers.
While Mitten might be wonderful for a town like Urbana who probably think a lot like she does, Evanston and Urbana are quite different. Very.
Opinion by,
City of Evanston YouTube Channel
News Gazette
The Public I
NAACP Champaign County


4 thoughts on “Was Carol Mitten Right for Evanston?”

  1. I know Ms Lewis personally and can assert that the beating inflicted upon her by Urbana police officers – whom Carol Mitten defends to this day – most definitely injured her. In particular, she had injuries to her ribs from being violently kneed in the torso by one bully with a badge while restrained, pinned down, and sat upon by two other Urbana cops. They also punched her in the head.

    She was not evaluated by a physician nor administered medical treatment for her injuries. Instead, once transported to the county jail, she was then tased. Twice.

    It is unconscionable of the Urbana City administration, and Ms Mitten at the Evanston Town Hall, to yet again re-victimize Ms Lewis, who had committed no crime that day, by publicly proclaiming she wasn’t injured.

    While the officers battered Ms Lewis, she screamed over and over in pain. And she explicitly cried out, You’re hurting me! Owww!

    This was all documented on camera by neighbors, and the video evidence is publicly available.

    The police did not take Ms Lewis to the hospital after beating her. To do so would have created a record of her injuries. They held her, for no reason, at the county jail and made sure to evade formal traces of their assault upon her.

    Ms Lewis was targeted for abuse by the Urbana police because she was Black, female and angry. And traumatized by events of that day. None of those are crimes. What she needed from emergency responders was a warm blanket, domestic violence services referral, and help getting home. Instead, she was assaulted when she tried to go home on her own. And our racist state’s attorney Julia Reitz, who has a long history of police misconduct cover up, made sure to viciously prosecute her for resisting arrest, etc., effectively silencing, retraumatizing, and revictimizing an innocent woman, and sending her the very clear message that the system will crush any attempt to expose the ugly truth of racial profiling and brutality at the Urbana Police Department. Ms Mitten has participated in the smearing of Ms Lewis’ name from day one.

    1. Our hearts go out to Ms. Lewis. Thank you for sharing more details. We couldn’t believe how cold and dismissive Mitten responded to the question about Ms. Lewis. Mitten’s compassion went to the police officer and told Evanston residents,”There’s a lot to unpack.” The residents who attended the town hall in Evanston would not allow her to devalue Ms. Lewis. It was an intense meeting.

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