The Junior Girl Scout Troop from Washington Elementary School invited Evanston’s Mayor, Elizabeth Tisdahl, to its March 4 meeting for an hour of questions and answers in honor of Women’s History Month.
The Mayor arrived at 3:35pm and greeted every girl with a handshake. Twenty of the third and fourth grade girls who make up Troop #41567 shared tea, sandwiches and cupcakes. The girls then spent a solid hour discussing a broad range of issues that never once seemed to stump Mrs. Tisdahl. Here is a recap of that Q & A:
Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: My dog, a golden lab.
Q: Do you have kids?
A: Yes, four.
Q: Do you have grandchildren?
A: Yes. I keep toys in my office at the Civic Center for when they come to visit. You are all welcome to come visit my office anytime, and if I’m not there, feel free to play with the toys.
Q: Do you like popcorn?
A: Yes, especially at the movies, and especially with butter, even though I know it’s not good for me.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: Ice cream.
Q: Do you like to go to museums?
A: Yes! When I’m in Chicago, I love the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry. When I’m traveling, I like to visit new museums, too.
Q: Have you ever visted the Mitchell Museum in Evanston?
A: Absolutely! I serve an advisory position there.
Q: What kinds of sports do you like?
A: Biking, horseback riding, skiing, swimming and scuba-diving.
Q: If you could choose between having no teeth or really long dreadlocks, which would you choose?
Q: What’s your favorite color?
Q: What city would you want to visit that’s not in America?
A: Belize – because it’s Evanston’s sister city. I’ve never been, but I’d like to go. I’d also like to visit Sydney and Hong Kong.
Q: Do you like being Mayor?
A: I love it. I didn’t know if I’d love it when I ran for Mayor, but I really do. It involves being fair, solving people’s problems, and making things better for people.
Q: How many people voted for you?
A: I don’t recall the exact number now, but I do remember that I received 62% of the vote, and there were four of us running. That’s the number I remember.
Q: What are your favorite, “funnest”, and hardest parts of your job as Mayor?
A: My favorite part is that there are so many interesting people and cultures to be with in Evanston. Did you know there are 35 nationalities represented at Evanston Township High School?
Let me tell you a story about my “funnest” day. First, did you know there are many, many people losing their homes in Evanston? Because of that, I asked the government in Washington for help for affordable housing. Do you know how much we got? Take a guess. We got $18,150,000.00 for affordable housing. That does two great things for Evanston. First, it makes a lot of homes affordable in Evanston. It also helps foreclosed homes go away, so it’s a safer place to live. I got a lot of help getting that money from Congresswoman Schakowsky and Senators Durbin and Burris. My “funnest” day was finding out we got that money for Evanston.
The hardest part of my job (well, being a mom is the hardest job I’ve ever had, but as far as being Mayor) is cutting jobs.
Q: Are you sure about closing the branch libraries?
A: Well, let me ask you all here: how many of you go to the branch libraries? How many of you go to the main library? Now, let’s talk about being fair. Our town has a main library, two branch libraries, and a library in every school. If we can’t afford to keep everything open, should we cut branch libraries or other things, like the children’s dental services? And, are there other things we can do to make books available, like having a bookmobile?
Q: Can you cut down school?
A: I’m afraid I can’t, but even if I could, I wouldn’t. I used to be on the school board. Did you know that the State of Illinois has fewer school days that almost any state in our country? I’d ask for more school.
Q: What is it like being Mayor?
A: It’s fun! I get to do things like talk with you. I get to do helpful things, like get eighteen million dollars for affordable housing. And I get to help Evanston. Like when the new president of Northwestern University and I met. I called his office and said I was baking cookies with my grandchildren, and that I’d like to bring them over to welcome him and his family. We met, and do you know what he did for Evanston? He gave Evanston a $550,000 fire engine.
Q: Where were you born?
Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: I like Law & Order. I like Grey’s Anatomy. The Good Wife. Chicago Tonight.
Q: Do you like the Simpsons?
A: No. I don’t like the Simpsons.
Q: How old are your kids?
A: They range in age from 32 to 48.
Q: Wow, that’s older than my mom!
A: (no comment)
Q: There’s an empty space on the roof of our school. My teacher and I wonder if we can have a garden there.
A: I’d be fine with that. I think it’s a great idea. However, you’ll need to ask Dr. Murphy and the School Board. They run the schools.
Q: What happens if we have a disaster here in Evanston?
A: If we don’t have enough help, we ask other communities to help. I have an iPhone to stay in touch with everyone in case of an emergency.
Q: What’s your favorite letter?
A: I think it would have to be “E” for Evanston.
Q: Did you think about how bookmobiles would increase pollution in Evanston?
A: You know, you’re absolutely right. I think you might grow up to be an environmentalist.
Q: What made you decide to be Mayor?
A: Well, I didn’t decide on my own. Our former Mayor, Lorraine Morton, asked me.
Q: Who’s your best friend?
A: Mitzy Walchek. She’s my neighbor.
Q: Do you go to parties?
Q: Do you get your boogie on?
A: Not as well as you do, I’m sure. But, I’ve been to a luncheon at the White House
[the most excitement of the afternoon was displayed here].
Q: Have you met the President?
A: Yes. Several times. I met him at that luncheon at the White House, but I also met him long before he ran for President.
Q: What’s your favorite hairstyle?
Q: Do people stop you in the grocery store? Do you feel weird in the grocery store?
A: People in Evanston stop me a lot and tell me how they feel. I don’t mind at all if I have the time to stop.
Q: I think you should give everyone in Evanston $10,000.
A: You know, the Federal Government is the only place that prints money. But, I noticed there’s an empty space in the basement of the Civic Center. I suggested putting a money printing machine there, but it didn’t get approved.
After posing for photos with Mayor Tisdahl, the girls created their own newspapers (dated March 4, 2040). The project helped inspire the girls to think about ways they’d like to see themselves change history.