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Longtime volunteer. Jeff has devoted even more time to non-partisan causes and campaigns than to politics, volunteering with groups working for political reform, peace and justice, environmental defense, and affordable housing, and devoting many hours to urban planning.

Jeff served for a decade on one of the country's largest peace and anti-nuclear weapons organizations, SANE, which became SANE/Freeze and then PeaceAction, studying governmental budgets in detail. In Rogers Park, he was on the steering committee of Network 49, the local independent organization associated with Ald. David Orr, worked with the local neighborhood watch group, and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Group of the Illinois Sierra Club.

Jeff was active in the 1990s in Evanston school issues, serving on the Candidate Nominating Committee several times and working with a group whose advocacy led to the opening of a second magnet school, Timber Ridge (now the Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies). During that period Jeff spent many seasons coaching youth baseball, softball, and soccer teams, and as a Scouting leader, including three years as Cubmaster of Pack 24. He also volunteered more than once as a parade marshal for the popular 4th of July parade.

In 2006-07 in Evanston, Jeff was an organizer for and helped counsel a citizens’ campaign to preserve the Evanston Civic Center from a proposal to demolish the building and sell the site for development as a subdivision. The Friends of the Civic Center advisory referendum passed overwhelmingly. The City ultimately agreed with the citizens and the building stands today as the Lorraine Morton Civic Center.

A grassroots organizer with a fundamental belief that government needs to listen better, Jeff served as the first president of the Central Street Neighbors Association, helping it grow into a well-respected community organization. During that time, Jeff was heavily involved in the Central Street Master Plan process that led to the single longest rezoning of a corridor in Evanston history. Visitors from around the area come to the eclectic business districts of Central Street, and the neighborhood was nationally recognized in 2013, in part for its active community organization.

About at the same time, Jeff was a participant in the Downtown Master Plan, Lakefront Master Plan, Climate Change Action Plan, and Multimodal Transportation Plan processes.

In 2009-2011, Jeff helped the Evanston Public Library Friends fight to keep the two branch libraries open during the recession and recovery, while exploring options for a west/southwest branch; the group raised funds, leased, and opened "The Mighty Twig" as a volunteer-run branch after the City shut the South Branch; eventually, after the City agreed to grant the Library Board the independence required under the Illinois Library Act, the Library used the Twig location to re-open a south branch.

In the 2009 and 2011 Evanston elections, Jeff moderated several well-attended candidate forums. He also has volunteered since 2009 as a community representative to assisted-living seniors in Three Crowns Park, appearing regularly before the residents' council of Pioneer Place.

In 2011, Jeff was appointed by Mayor Tisdahl to the Mayor's Wind Farm Committee and helped shape its report. Subsequently, Jeff served on Illinois's Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Advisory Council whose recommendations led to the passage of state legislation that will enable renewable energy while protecting the environment.

Jeff was one of the earliest opponents of a sale of the Harley Clarke house, and worked with members of several groups as they attempted to keep the property public. Jeff is currently a founding board member of Citizens' Greener Evanston (returning after state service), where he has participated in activities ranging from the monitoring state legislation affecting the environment, to manning the wine bar at the Green Arts Festival, and of Evanston Lakehouse & Gardens, which is working on a restorative plan for the Harley Clarke house and Lighthouse Landing campus.

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©2017 Jeff Smith. Paid for by in-kind contribution to Jeff Smith for Evanston. A copy of our report is or will be on file with, and available for purchase from, the Illinois State Board of Elections.
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