Champaign man considers run for mayor

CHAMPAIGN – A second potential challenger for Mayor Jerry Schweighart's office picked up nomination petitions this week, and he says it is important for city officials to look toward the future.

Don Gerard, who listed an address in central Champaign , said he is "somewhat of a reluctant politician but an eager public servant."

Gerard said he has lived in Champaign for 42 years and now works for Facilities and Services at the University of Illinois. Throughout his life, he said, he has worked at "a number of local businesses."

"If anything, I'm a fairly prototypical Champaign community member," Gerard said.

Though he believes the current city council does a "fantastic" job, Gerard said officials need to look toward the future and address infrastructure concerns and continue to work on Big Broadband, a federally-funded high speed Internet project.

He also said officials need to view Campustown as an asset to the community and work more closely with merchants there.

While he has "great respect" for Schweighart, Gerard said the April election is the right time to challenge him for the office. The only time Schweighart has ever been challenged in a mayoral election was when he first won the office in 1999, a situation that Gerard said is not good for democracy.

"It's up to them (voters)," Gerard said. "I'd like the opportunity to present myself as an individual, my ideas, how I am, and let the people choose."

Schweighart could be facing at least two challengers in the April 2011 election. Northwest Champaign resident Charles Mingee told The News-Gazette in August that he would seek nomination.

Potential candidates need to collect 63 signatures on a petition before they can declare their candidacy in November.

In addition to the mayor's office, four city council seats – three at-large seats and one district 5 seat – will be up for grabs in April. The incumbents – Tom Bruno, Deborah Frank Feinen, Karen Foster and Gordy Hulten – have all said they will seek re-election. So far, no challengers to those seats have picked up petitions from the city clerk.

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RD wrote on September 23, 2010 at 7:09 am

I hope that the people running against our presently racist mayor are patriotic and believe in the legitimacy of Obama as the President of the United States. You truly disqust me Mayor and it is time for you to step aside.

RogueWave wrote on September 23, 2010 at 7:09 am

Mr. Gerard sounds like an intelligent and well-tempered man, neither of which could be said about our current mayor. I am glad that Schweighart won't be getting another free ride this year.

loopillini wrote on September 23, 2010 at 10:09 am

Schweighart is an anachronism...he is a 1950's throwback and an embarrassment to the Champaign of today...he needs to go quickly and quietly

RogueWave wrote on September 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Well said. I for one am ready for a mayor who won't embarrass Champaign by advocating conspiracy theories and who would embrace Campustown as an asset to the community instead of seemingly trying to antagonize it every chance he gets like Schweighart does. City Councilmen Tom Bruno and Mike LaDue would both be fine choices if they were ever to run.

John O'Connor wrote on September 23, 2010 at 1:09 pm

It's great that he's being challenged and I'm looking forward to hearing the policies of the other candidates.

John O'Connor wrote on September 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm

I should add to my last comment that Gerard's interest in the broadband grants, infrastructure and working more closely with campustown are all positive and very welcome. And also the whole not being a birther thing.

Sanity wrote on September 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm
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Mr. Gerard sounds like a nice man, but he's extremely liberal. We need balance in the Twin Cities. Let the People's Republic of Urbana have the liberalism, but we need our Moderates here in Champaign. Mayor S might be ready to consider stepping aside, but don't let it be for one statement, blown out of proportion by the media. He's been a faithful servant, and very balanced. We need balance and experience, not a left leaning newbie.

John O'Connor wrote on September 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Well, the voters will decide. Schweighart's very right wing, as evidenced by trying to refuse the broadband grants and by belief in that crazy conspiracy theory, which was by no means blown out of proportion. If he believes that lunacy, what else does he believe.

RogueWave wrote on September 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Have we (or, specifically, you) become so partisan that whether you are a liberal or conservative now matters in municipal elections? Give me a break! None of Mr. Gerard's positions have anything to do with left or right, they have to do with improving areas of our community (broadband, relationship with Campustown, etc.) that Schweighart has neglected or has decided are not important.

Out of curiosity, how do you even know that he's a liberal?