Stiff competition as lottery picks citizens to interview city manager candidates

Deputy City Clerk Eduardo Gomez looks on as City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza pulls another ping ping ball from a box in a lottery Wednesday, Jan. 5, determining which citizens will serve on a panel to interview Evanston’s city manager finalists.
By Bob Seidenberg

A cardboard box salvaged from storage, some ping pong balls, and a colleague to record the ceremony — and you had all the ingredients needed to conduct a lottery determining which citizens would serve on a panel to interview Evanston’s two city manager finalists.
Evanston City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza conducted the lottery in her office at the sparsely populated Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center Wednesday, Jan. 5.
Those residents who signed up early to be part of the selection process fared best.
Mendoza kept plucking out ping pong balls with the numeral 1 inked on them — the low number signifying early sign ups.
Competition to be one of the two representatives per ward was stiff.
Close to 90 residents applied to be part of the process.
The applications were time stamped as they were received.
The city is down to is down to two candidates in its search for a new city manager.
Michael Jasso, Assistant City Manager for the City of Sacramento, and Daniel Ramos, Deputy Chief of Staff/Deputy City Administrator for the City of Baltimore are the two finalists, the city just announced. A virtual town meeting with the candidates is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 9, over Zoom. (For more details visit the city website,
Three panels, including the panel of community members, a panel of City staff, and a panel of business and nonprofit stakeholders, will have the opportunity to meet and interview finalist candidates.
Those interviews are scheduled to take place from 5 to 7 p.m.,Thursday, January 13.
The drama which citizens would serve unfolded in Mendoza’s Clerk’s office on a freezing winter day.
Mendoza reached in the box, shaking up the balls between selections.
“I finally found a use for the balls that were in the supply closet,” the new Clerk said.
Deputy Clerk Eduardo Gomez stood by, recording the proceedings on his phone. Council member Clare Kelly, 1st, was in the office, looking on.
Ping pong balls bearing the number 1 were pulled out for a number of wards.
Varied backgrounds
The list included a number of residents active in community affairs and included a former Alderperson (Jane Grover) and City Clerk (Rodney Greene), former mayoral candidate (Sebastian Nalls), an activist and former president of the city’s Recreation Board (Rick Marsh) and environmentalist (Wendy Pollock).
Here is the full list by Ward, released today:
1st — Betsy Wilson and Lynda Crawford
2nd — Kate Schwartz and Beth McDonald
3rd — Allyn Wilcox Rawling and Jeanne Marie Olson
4th — Susan Barrett-Kelly and Wendy Pollock
5th — Rodney Greene and Scott Mangum
6th — John Frank and Megan Lutz
7th — Jane Grover and Pamela Ferdinand
8th — Linta Xarter-Weathers and Rick Marsh
9th — Sebastian Nalls and Shama Jacover

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