Meet potential mayoral challenger Charles Mingee

I reported Saturday that Mayor Jerry Schweighart could have a challenger in the April 2011 election: northwest Champaign resident Charles Mingee.

Last week, Mingee picked up petitions that, with 63 valid signatures, would get his name on the ballot. That’s something he failed to do for the 2007 election, when nine of his signatures were determined to be invalid. His named was dropped from the ballot and Schweighart won unopposed.

“I definitely learned a lot from that, and I don’t make the same mistakes twice, generally,” Mingee said.

He plans to be in different parts of the city collecting signatures more often than his previous attempt.

He also gave me his reason for potentially running (it won’t be official until he files for candidacy in November) and some of his history.

“Four years ago, I was just tired of seeing people being unopposed in running,” Mingee said. “But this time around, it’s kind of like that, but I want to teach my son the ins and outs of what political life is going to be like if he decides to follow it.”

Mingee doesn’t have any formal experience in local government, he said, other than attending some meetings and “voicing my opinion on certain things.” He said he served in the Navy from 1978 to 1982.

“There’s no doubt I want to be mayor,” he said. “I’m born and raised in this town, I’ve seen the good times, and I’ve seen the bad times.”

I asked him what issues are present now that particularly concern him, and his response referenced the fatal police shooting of Kiwane Carrington.

“The biggest pain, which I think should have been solved a long time ago but it keeps coming up, is the death of the man during the police scuffle,” Mingee said.

He said city officials should have invested more time in “finding out the real reason that things happened the way they did,” and spending more time solving those issues.

“There’s a whole lot of tension between different people and different groups,” he said.

The Champaign City Council operates under a premise of non-partisanship, but Mingee said he typically leans Republican. However, given the option, he said he would create a new, “purple party,” symbolizing “bravery and not being afraid to do what you want.”

Questions or comments? Please feel encouraged to post them below, e-mail me or send me a message on Twitter.

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