Field of those weighing city races growing
CHAMPAIGN — A former Champaign City Council member and a past candidate for Urbana mayor are among a widening field of prospective candidates for next spring's city elections on both sides of Wright Street.
In Champaign, Gina Jackson says she will challenge Will Kyles for the District 1 seat on the Champaign City Council. She served one term from 2005 to 2009 before choosing not to run for re-election for personal reasons.
Lynn Anderson is circulating petitions to challenge Vic McIntosh for the District 3 seat. The race will be a partial rematch from this summer when the District 3 seat was vacant. Both candidates sought city council appointment to the seat, but McIntosh was ultimately chosen.
In Urbana, Republican Rex Bradfield has picked up petitions to potentially challenge Democratic Mayor Laurel Prussing. Bradfield ran for the office in 2009, when he collected 32 percent of the vote to Prussing's 53 percent. The remainder was split between a Green Party and independent candidate.
He thinks he has a better shot this time, especially if there are no Green Party or independent candidates in the race to split the vote.
"I'm very dissatisfied with the direction that Urbana is going as far as spending money on useless infrastructure," Bradfield said.
He specifically mentioned a project to beautify the Boneyard Creek in downtown Urbana, a project that is expected to cost around $7.8 million. Although city officials have touted it as an economic development project, Bradfield said it will not make the downtown area any more lively.
He plans to continue driving a campaign issue from four years ago, too. He said Prussing needs to hire a Chief Administrative Officer, a high-ranking city position parallel to the mayor's that has been vacant for years.
Prussing has defended her decision not to fill the position by saying her office has run more effectively and efficiently in the time the vacancy has existed.
"I will listen," Bradfield said. "I will listen to what the people want to have done."
In Champaign, Jackson said District 1 should start moving in a new direction, "and the progress that's being made needs to be kept secure."
"The demographics have changed," Jackson said. "We need to move in another direction. Councilman Kyles is a very nice young man, but I feel the district needs a different style of leadership."
Kyles, Jackson and Dwayne Hubbard have all begun circulating petitions to run. They will each need to collect 84 signatures before they are eligible to appear on a February primary ballot or the regular ballot in April.
Hubbard tried to run for the District 1 seat in 2005 before he was kicked off the primary ballot for failing to specify on his nominating petitions what office he was seeking. He pursued and lost a write-in campaign.
Hubbard did not return phone messages seeking comment.
Kyles is nearing the end of his first term and intends to run for a second.
"Communication is up. Civic participation is up. Minority outreach is up," Kyles said. "Police-community relations are on the road to a better route."
Kyles said he thinks the city should now move to create a sustainable funding model for a summer jobs program for Champaign students and continue its work on hiring minority contractors and workforce development.
He also said he hopes to "welcome Garden Hills into District 1." That neighborhood will move from District 3 to District 1 after new lines were drawn following the 2010 census.
Jackson has her eye on Garden Hills, too. She said the neighborhood needs new infrastructure, particularly lights and curbs.
"There are a lot of homeowners in Garden Hills that are struggling with problems with renters, landlords that don't care about their properties and security issues," Jackson said.
Five of nine Champaign City Council seats and all nine Urbana elected offices will be up for grabs in April 2013. Township offices are open, too. Prospective candidates can continue circulating nominating petitions between now and a one-week candidacy filing period in mid-November.
So far, these candidates have picked up petitions from the city clerk's office in Urbana:
— For mayor, Democrat and incumbent Laurel Prussing, Democrat Les Stratton and Republican Rex Bradfield.
— For city clerk, Democrat and incumbent Phyllis Clark and Democrat Robert (Mike) Gatsche.
— For Ward 3, Democrat Carol Ammons.
— For Ward 5, Democrat and incumbent Dennis Roberts.
Democratic Ward 7 incumbent alderwoman Diane Marlin said on Thursday that she intends run for re-election, too.
These candidates have picked up petitions from the city clerk's office in Champaign, where elections are non-partisan:
— For District 1, incumbent Will Kyles, Gina Jackson and Dwayne Hubbard.
— For District 2, incumbent Michael La Due.
— For District 3, incumbent Vic McIntosh and Lynn Anderson.
— For District 5, incumbent Paul Faraci.
District 4 incumbent Marci Dodds also has said she intends to run for re-election.