A bright red “X” drawn onto a portrait of Mayor Daniel Biss welcomes viewers to the “Better than Biss” website, the online home of the brand new political committee that is seeking an alternative to Evanston’s first-term mayor.
According to its website, the Better than Biss committee, formed this week by Evanston residents, is compiling a list of qualities and skills Evanston residents want to see in their mayor, with the ultimate goal of ousting Biss if he runs for reelection in 2025.
Currently, the committee would like to see candidates who will support Evanston teachers, demonstrate transparency and be a “strong” negotiator. Mayoral candidates who the committee believes meet these criteria will receive campaign donations collected through the group’s website.
The committee comes on the heels of Biss’ actions regarding Northwestern’s plan to rebuild Ryan Field and host concerts at the new venue. At City Council’s Oct. 30 meeting, Biss broke a 4-4 tie between councilmembers to introduce an ordinance that rezones the area around Ryan Field to allow public-facing concerts.
On Monday, City Council will have a final vote for action on the controversial project.
Parielle Davis, the chair of the committee, said she believes Biss mishandled discussions with NU about the new stadium by conceding to many of the University’s requests. She said she suspects Biss might be in league with the Ryan family to support him in a future bid for governor or another higher-level political position.
“I felt like Mayor Biss just was not listening to the residents or acting in the best interests of the residents,” Davis said. “I just was shocked at his poor leadership and poor representation and just general poor executive skills as a negotiator.”
Biss has served as mayor of Evanston since 2021, when he won the mayoral election with about 73% of the vote. He previously served as an Illinois state senator.
In 2018, he staged a run for governor, ultimately coming in second place in the Democratic primary to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
During his mayoral tenure, Biss has helped the city make economic and health-based headway on pandemic recovery, overseen turnover in city staff and navigated a tense town-gown relationship. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As a mother and a neighbor of Ryan Field, Davis said she would personally be affected by the rebuild of the stadium. She moved to Evanston in 2020, hoping to raise her children in a quiet area.
Though the committee currently does not have a challenger for Biss in mind for the April 2025 mayoral election, Davis said she is confident that they can find someone. She added that she has heard from many residents who are “very passionate” and “very upset” about Biss’ initial vote to advance the Ryan Field plan.
If they cannot find anyone, then Davis will throw her name in the hat.
“In the worst case scenario, if push came to shove, I would just run,” Davis said. “It’s not my goal. I’m very busy being a mom, but if we can’t find anyone that fits the bill, I’ll be up for it.”
Email: [email protected]
—City Council narrowly introduces Ryan Field concert plan, setting up contentious November vote
—Evanston, Northwestern community alliance push for greater University investment in city
—‘Respect Evanston’: Community members express distrust in NU’s Ryan Field rebuild at town hall