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.