Gerard files petitions to oppose Schweighart in Champaign election

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.

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mynrkt wrote on November 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Good. Someone needs to replace this "Obama's not a citizen" buffoon. Hopefully Mr. Gerard also has a better vision for rehabilitating Champaign than Mr. Schweighart.

John O'Connor wrote on November 18, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Ya, I'd say not being a birther is one of the basic minimum requirements for holding office.

5uperman wrote on November 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Oh honestly. All the Mayor said was that the fact that BHO has never actually shown anyone his birth certificate is cause for concern. And isn't it? All BHO has to do is show us the piece of paper and all the hubbub will simmer down. That fact that he won't is telling indeed...

...anyhoo, BHO doesn't live in Champaign that last time I checked so who gives a squat? Judge Jerry on his record people. That's only fair. But when's the last time the liberals played fair?

lga wrote on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Here ya go, 5uperman:

http://fightthesmears.com/articles/5/birthcertificate

There's the birth certificate that the president released years ago - all confirmed and verified by the courts.

So, now, let's talk about the Mayor's record. What exactly is on that record? What accomplishments would convince you to vote for him again?

5uperman wrote on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

You're so-called proof is a Democratic National Commity website? Nice try.

As for the Mayor's record, have you ever been to Champaign? It's great!

lga wrote on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Well, it appears that you are one of those people that, even when presented with evidence, won't change your mind because it doesn't fit your narrative. Here is another link to evidence, though, if you are interested:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/birthcertificate.asp

Anyway, yes!! I am a long-time resident of Champaign. I do love our city! But I believe it is time to move forward. Our current mayor doesn't seem to do much in terms of generating new ideas, attracting new business, promoting our city across the nation and internationally. It is time for some new energy. How can a city (known as the "Silicon Prairie" of our state) have a mayor that doesn't even use email?

John O'Connor wrote on November 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Ya, the certificate has been shown but they still cling to their denials. Nothing will convince the birthers. Of course, Schweighart said he thought Obama wasn't an American.

And, if Schweighart believes that crazy conspiracy theory, what other nuttiness does he subscribe to? He tried to refuse the broadband grant. We need a forward looking mayor, not one mired in the past and whose head is filled with delusions.

ronaldo wrote on November 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

The certificate was NEVER produced. What you like to rest your reputation on was a copy on par to what I can kick out on my computer in about 15 minutes. And the ONLY person from the vital statistics dept. to have spoken out on the issue was the head of birth records at the time that the controversy bloomed, and he said flatly that no original record could be found. Plain and simple.

So now how's that Kool Aid tasting? Keep drinking.

peabody wrote on November 18, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Okay, I'll play along and pretend that fanning rumors and sheer ignorance on the President's birthplace isn't relevant just because it's an issue that occurs outside of Champaign city limits. Good to know that we don't need to know anything about the world in order to run for office. As for his record here, Schweighart still owes me $2,000 after I smashed up my car on icy streets that he refused to salt last year. And I still remember hearing him quoted on the radio on the topic of subsidized housing, when he vouched for the high moral character of our local landlords. Then there's his holier-than-thou campaigns against local bars and unofficial St. Patrick's Day even as crime spins out of control on the streets. And then there's his total lack of response to the racial tensions in this town. I'm sure the good ol' boy network wants Mayor Schweighart back in office but this city deserves a fresh perspective.

Tom Napier wrote on November 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

One can loose adhesion in slush just as well as they can on ice. Salted steets can still freeze. Anti-lock brakes increase stopping distances. May I suggest learning how to drive in winter conditions. I'm sure the Public Works department has much better uses for its two thousand bucks.

peabody wrote on November 21, 2010 at 9:11 pm

You know nothing about my accident. If you grew up around here you also probably know about a quarter of what I do about winter driving. I grew up 500 miles north of here and I know what well-kept streets look like in the winter, and what happens here in Champaign during the winter is a joke. I don't blame the road crews ever since I saw Schweighart's comments about road salt last year. Black ice got me and the cops even said so on their accident report. I nearly got out of it but I tagged the curb and bent some of the wheel components and that's all she wrote. The mechanic said they'd been flooded with ice-related accidents. Talk all you want about personal responsibility but I know bad governance when I see it.

ronaldo wrote on November 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Wow. So, Schweighart is responsible for your poor driving abilities? I think the key word is "I" in "I smashed up my car....".

Time to buck up and take responsibility for your actions.

sahuoy wrote on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

SCHWEIGHART FOR MAYOR - I have absolutely no interest in changing mayors. Jerry has done very well for Champaign. Those opposed will always have some kind of complaint no matter how pointless it is. The worst thing that could happen to Champaign is to not re-elect Jerry, he's done well. The next worst thing is to elect Gerard, an Urbana, U of I employee wanting to spread Urbana ideas and philosophies across Champaign. Bad idea. Crippling Champaign by following the path of Urbana and mayor is the last thing Champaign wants or needs. Using Champaign resources to assist Urbana with their grand design for the U of I, its employees and Urbana citizens only serves Urbana. Champaign citizens taxes are wisely used to benefit the citizens of Champaign where the money comes from and whom it now serves under mayor Schweighart. Mr. Gerard would better serve his fellow U of I by running for mayor of Urbana and curb their status and growth so the people are unburdened by the U of I dragging on its economy and well being when their spending is out of control. Mr. Gerard, Champaign is doing very well, your thoughts have been considered but we feel Urbana is a better fit for you at this time. Fix Urbana first because the only problem I see with Champaign is its not like Urbana and we don't want to be like Urbana, we are Champaign.

johnny wrote on November 18, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I agree except for two things:

1. Don Gerard would have to move to Urbana.

2. Urbana would keep Laurel Prussing even if she were found guilty of genocide. No one can save Urbana from itself.

Candidate Don Gerard wrote on November 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm
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Sir or Madam -

I applaud you on so actively acting upon your civic duty to participate in a municipal election and agree Champaign cannot – and should not – become like Urbana. For one thing, Champaign is a City Manager-run community and the Mayor has but one of nine votes, however, I will try to allay the concerns you pose:

1. I live in Champaign and own a home. I do not live in Urbana. My children attend public schools in Champaign. I am friends with many of those who own taverns, restaurants, clothing stores, coffe shops, auto-repair shops, construction companies, insurance companies, etc. in Champaign. I tend to shop, buy gasoline and dine out in Champaign.

2. I am one of over 4,600 "staff" (Civil Service) employees - many of whom live in Champaign, St. Joseph, Tolono, Oakwood, Decatur and a myriad of other surrounding communities. I would say - as much as any other "blue-collar" employee at the UI it is my intent to do a good job, be proud of my work and be rewarded with a paycheck every two weeks.

3. I am a Facilities Manager for the two schools of Life Sciences at the U of I Urbana-Champaign. My responsibilities include overseeing activities which support teaching and research within the schools and provide appropriate infrastructural conditions. In a nutshell – I must make sure the lights are on, the toilets flush and classes and laboratories can function with concerns ranging from the diminishing bee population to cancer and cancer drug-related research. I work with limited budgets – some state funding has been at a fixed rate for decades – to keep the operations functioning.

I often work with groups to address problems and issues – much like the Champaign City Council.

I also interact on a daily basis with Deans, Professors, Plumbers, Secretaries, Pipefitters, Students, Custodians, Scientists, Graduate Students, Refrigeration Mechanics, Administrative Assistance, Directors, Temperature Control Mechanics, Emeritus Faculty, Steam Distribution Operators, et al. A vastly diverse bunch with wildly varying ethnic and social backgrounds, levels of educations, areas of skill and expertise and personalities - much like the people of Champaign.

I would be more than happy to arrange a time to address your service or community group to further discuss my experience and qualifications to serve the citizens of Champaign. You may contact me via our campaign website.

Respectfully,
Don Gerard, Candidate for Mayor
Champaign, Illinois

bluegrass wrote on November 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I wonder which is worse - saying one isn't sure whether the president is an American, or knowingly loaning money to convicted mobsters? How many people bashing the mayor for something he said, voted for Alexi Giannoulis completely overlooking something he actually did?

Reasonable voters in Champaign realize the mayor is doing and has done a fine job running the city, and if the only problem he has is this snippet from the summer, he'll win, again, in a landslide.

Candidate Don Gerard wrote on November 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm
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Sir or Madam -

Thank you for making this point. The voters of Illinois chose not to re-elect Mr. Giannoulis and, instead, concurred a candidate – who had no experience as a Senator, and with the following approval scores - Mark Kirk (R) would be better suited for the position:

Planned Parenthood: 100%
Americans for Democratic Action: 55%
American Conservative Union: 48%
National Rifle Association: F
National Education Association: A

I hope reasonable voters in Champaign will make a choice based on the candidate they believe is best suited to represent a progressive community rooted in traditional values. I would be happy to meet with you and/or any service or community organization to which you belong to discuss the issues which matter most to you.

Respectfully,

Don Gerard
Champaign, Illinois

Roanrider wrote on November 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I think Schweighart would be more suited to Cook County, or perhaps Illinois State government. He would fit right in. It's time for a change. Jerry Schweighart and his band of good ole boys are a travesty.

johnny wrote on November 20, 2010 at 12:11 am

"It's time for a change" is the sort of argument that could elect Andy Martin or John Wayne Gacy. Both Jerry Schweighart and Don Gerard deserve a better argument than that.

sahuoy wrote on November 22, 2010 at 1:11 am

Thank you Mr. Gerard. Your experience is well suited for serving in an area with diversity and depth. That said, I've not heard either yourself or Mr. Schweighart say what is good, what is transitional and what is bad about Champaign. What needs to be addressed, etc. Off hand comments of we need change won't cause voters to make a change if no problems exist. I see Champaign maintaining streets and sewers. New housing developments are growing. The stores, shops and services available appear to be doing well. Some areas need refurbishing but not if those improvements will not recoup their investment. So what do you believe needs to be improved, changed or created that will be better than what exist now for Champaign? Feel free to address Urbana as well so that voters have a clear idea of contrast and harmony of these twin cities future. Thank you.

Candidate Don Gerard wrote on November 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm
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Like the current Mayor, I very much consider myself a "face-to-face"/"people person". However, I am also well-aware of the fact there are very few jobs which can be handled effectively without utilizing email, the internet, etc. I am of the mind keeping in touch with a community of over 75,000 (nearly 10,000 more than when Mayor Schweighart took office) requires some level of comfort and ability with these methods of communication.

Case in point - we are have an ongoing discourse regarding your concerns. As you use the internet, you may visit my website for more detailed information regarding my campaign which, in the coming months, will be updated both with written "blogs" as well as informative videos as timely issues arise.

Also, I find it discouraging our community - sometimes deemed "silicon prairie" - will proceed with the Big Broadband Project (which is vital to addressing our public schools' infrastructural shortcomings) was adopted "in spite of" our Mayor.

Champaign is fortunate to have weathered the current economic storm fairly well and, it is my understanding, has even experienced a modicum of growth in recent months. However, I believe it would be greatly beneficial to the local economy to have representation in the Mayor's office which would not be wary to look beyond our city's borders. Intergovernmental programs are just one way we can bring money into our community (e.g. the recent proposal to work with the state on housing inspections, the sort of which the Mayor noted he had opposed for 25 years, but ultimately voted "yes" to continuing to study the program for potential future implementation).

I am also an avid supporter of athletics, theater, art, music, etc., however, believe support for these types of programs need come from the private sector. My experience in the community finds me familiar with local entrepreneurs, businessmen and investors (many of which with whom I was in BSA Troop 7, local public schools or actually working for them when their businesses were brand new) - as well as those to whom my father made loans in the 60's and 70's. These are precisely the individuals who may be encouraged - and lauded - for their efforts, however, it is vital to have an enthusiastic and energetic individual be the catalyst for this type of activity.

As I have noted in my campaign, with the City's commitment to develop "Midtown" to connect Downtown with Campustown it is imperative the Mayor have a rapport and working relationship with merchants in all of these three regions.

I hope this begins to establish why I feel my vision for the future of the position of Mayor of Champaign is a dynamic shift from that of Mr. Schweighart's. While I am comfortable with using this forum, I feel your question may be better suited to a live debate or, minimally, a discussion over a cup of coffee or at a community gathering.

Please do not hesitate to contact me via our website if you wish to arrange something.

Respectfully,
Don Gerard
Candidate for City of Champaign Mayor

Candidate Don Gerard wrote on November 22, 2010 at 11:11 pm
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...and, for the record, your tenacity and obvious familiarity with the community - and concern for its future - finds me thinking, perhaps, our community, and certainly the notion of democracy, would have been well-served had you tossed your own hat in the ring for Mayor or a council seat.

It is certainly the citizens who chose to involve themselves, initiate dialogue and challenge their leaders and candidates who represent the most impressive civic-minded approach.

Respectfully,
Don Gerard

mankind wrote on November 23, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I don't know who I'm voting for yet but if you think everything is A-OK with this town then you must have your head in the sand.