CHAMPAIGN — When the signatures are verified, Mayor Jerry Schweighart likely will have his first challenger for the office since he was first elected in 1999.
Schweighart earlier this week turned in his papers to the city clerk to get his name on the ballot for the April 5 election, and challenger Don Gerard put his name in the hat Thursday afternoon. Both have spent the past couple months collecting petition signatures to become eligible.
Gerard has lived in Champaign for 42 years and now works for Facilities and Services at the University of Illinois.
When he launched his campaign in September, he said he believes the current city council does a "fantastic" job and he has great respect for Schweighart, but the April election is the right time to challenge him.
"Now we get back to knocking on doors," Gerard said Thursday.
The other city council members up for election — at large incumbents Tom Bruno, Karen Foster and Deborah Frank Feinen and District 5 representative Gordy Hulten — also filed for candidacy earlier this week. As of Thursday afternoon, no one had filed to challenge them.
The filing period began this week and closes Monday at 5 p.m.