City Council Member Peter Braithwaite of Evanston’s 2nd Ward announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his seat, ending more than 10 years representing one of the City’s most diverse wards.
He said his resignation will take effect at the July 11 City Council meeting.
Council Member Peter Braithwaite. (Photo by Genie Lemieux)
Braithwaite, who recently lost his mother, made his announcement near the close of the June 27 City Council meeting.
“It has been a huge honor and privilege not only to serve and represent the members of the 2nd Ward here on Council,” he said, “but being a part of some amazing decisions and meeting some incredible people along the way.”
He said he planned to follow up the announcement with written comments to the residents of his ward.
“Over the past several months, there have been some life-changing experiences that myself and my family have gone through, and it has been a deep period of reflection,” he said in explaining his decision-making process. “I’ve had many conversations, deep conversations with some of my peers. I’ve worked very closely with some members of the community.”
Upon hearing Braithwaite’s statement, Mayor Daniel Biss said he appreciated the fact that Council members would have a chance to say more before Braithwaite’s last meeting.
“It’s obvious, but it needs to be said aloud. Whatever you want to say about this Council, experience is not our forte, and you’ve brought it: experience,” he said to Braithwaite. “You’ve been so generous in sharing what you’ve learned during your time on this Council with those of us who are new. That’s been a lot. And it’s, it’s going to be really, really really felt after July 11.”
Long history in a diverse ward
The youngest of five children and the son of Jamaican immigrants, Braithwaite grew up in the 2nd Ward he would later represent.
Peter Braithwaite at Evanston’s Reparations Committee meeting on January 13, 2021. Credit: Richard Cahan
Then-Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl tapped him to fill the 2nd Ward seat in 2011, when then-Ald. Lionel Jean Baptiste left to fill a judicial vacancy.
Braithwaite brought a record of strong community involvement, including serving as interim director of Project SOAR at the McGaw YMCA.
On the Council, he was a strong voice in minority hiring issues and chaired the city’s Reparations Committee as the group began putting into action the City’s historical decision on reparations for past racial injustices.
Braithwaite faced a strong challenge in the 2021 election, winning by fewer than 75 votes over Darlene Cannon, one of a number of candidates running on an activist agenda.
The 2nd Ward, which is located around the Dempster-Dodge area and extends to Evanston Township High School, is one of the City’s most diverse awards — home to a number of ethnic groups and, second to the 5th Ward, home to the City’s largest minority population.
Decision making process
Braithwaite recently started a new job as Director of Procurement, Diversity and Community Engagement at Northwestern University.
He said after the June 27 meeting that the new job – which would mean he would likely have to recuse himself in town-gown issues – wasn’t the driving factor in his decision.
“The main thing is … it’s just time for me to write reprioritize my life,” he said. “This experience has been tremendous. I’ve had the opportunity, as I shared before, to be a part of some great decisions. And when I look at everything that I have in front of me, I need to focus my priorities heavily.”
He is the second member of the City Council to step down in the past six months.
Council Member Cicely Fleming of the 9th Ward stepped down from her seat in January, also following the loss of her mother.
Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward Council Member, announced at the June 27 City Council meeting that he would step down next month. Credit: Robert Seidenberg
Once her resignation became official, Biss opened an application process for candidates interested in filling the position, and a community forum was held.
With the consent of the City Council, Biss then appointed Juan Geracaris to Fleming’s seat until next year, when a special election will be held to fill the remainder of Fleming’s term, which runs until 2025.
Still reacting to Braithwaite’s announcement, Biss and the other council members didn’t discuss on June 27 what process would be used filling the 2nd Ward position.
Braithwaite had only positive remarks regarding his work on the City Council.
“For the period of time that I’ve had an opportunity to work with the citizens here and behind this desk, it’s been transformative.”