By Bob Seidenberg
Juan Geracaris, Vice President of Evanston Latinos, is Mayor Daniel Biss’s pick to fill the vacated 9th Ward City Council seat, several other candidates confirmed they were informed earlier in the evening.
Biss, who presided over a long executive session tonight on an unrelated issue Tuesday, declined to confirm the report.
He said he expected to make an announcement Wednesday, Feb. 23.
Geracaris was one of eight candidates vying for Biss’s appointment to succeed 9th Ward Alderperson Cicely Fleming, who officially resigned from her seat, Feb. 15.
Under state statute, the mayor, with consent of the City Council, has authority to fill the seat. The 9th Ward is located in south Evanston, running from Main Street on the north as far as Kirk Street on the south.
Geracaris, if confirmed for the position, will serve until the 2023 municipal election, to be held in either February or April of that year, depending if a primary is necessary.
The winner of that election will serve the remainder of Fleming’s term, which expires at the next municipal election in April 2025.
In naming Geracaris, the mayor passed over several other candidates with more experience on city government issues.
They include Christopher Shawn Jones, a lawyer, who ran against Fleming in 2017; Daniel Coyne, a District 65 social worker and former Ridgeville Park District board member; and Sebastian Nalls, a Purdue University student who ran in the 2021 mayoral race against Biss.
Kathelyn Hayes, the only African-American in the field, had at one time worked as a case manager at the Township of Evanston.
Coyne said he received a call earlier in the evening from the mayor, informing him he had selected Geracaris.
He said he was “blown away, by each and everyone,” in the candidates field, their “depth and compassion.” Each one brought a unique skill set, he said.
Coyne, the only candidate to have served in elected office, pledged to help Geracaris in the learning curve he will inevitably encounter.
He noted, though, that an open election for the seat “is a fast drive from here.”
Jones admitted he was disappointed after the mayor informed of his decision
“I thought I was the best qualified and most prepared to step in and address the problems facing Evanston right now,” he said.
Geracaris is a 14-year resident of the 9th Ward, he said at the forum. Altogether, he has lived, studied and worked in Evanston for 29 years.
He is Vice President of Evanston Latinos, a nonprofit group that was formed to serve the Latinox community.
At the Feb. 17 forum, he followed up his English responses to questions, repeating them in Spanish, the only candidate to do so.
He would join City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza on the Council, giving the Latino community a strong presence on the legislative body for the first time.
Geracaris is also one of the founders of Evanston Skates, the group working with the city on a new skateboard park.
At a Feb. 17 forum for the candidates, Biss said he hoped to bring his recommendation to the Council at their next regular meeting, Feb. 28.