Prussing wins Democratic nomination for Urbana mayor

Updated 9:42 p.m.

URBANA — The focus will now turn to incumbent Laurel Prussing and her Republican challenger after she won the Democratic nomination for Urbana mayor on Tuesday night.

Prussing gathered 1,288 votes on Tuesday night — 65 percent of the total 1,994 ballots cast — to defeat her challenger, Les Stratton. That makes her the Democratic nominee in a city where Democrats have a winning history.

Stratton collected 698 votes.

Incumbent City Clerk Phyllis Clark was the second winner on Tuesday night after she defeated Robert Michael Gatsche in a primary race for city clerk. Clark has effectively won re-election, as she faces no Republican challenger in the April 9 election.

Clark won 1,418 votes to Gatsche’s 424.

Prussing said that Stratton ran an “aggressive” campaign, and he was “very gracious” in congratulating her victory on Tuesday night. She said she is looking forward to the April 9 election as she seeks a third term as Urbana’s mayor.

Republican Rex Bradfield, who ran for mayor and lost to Prussing in 2009, will be her next test in the spring election. Bradfield thinks he “absolutely” has a shot at victory this year, even though Republicans tend not to do well in Urbana.

Bradfield won 31.9 percent of the vote to Prussing’s 53.4 percent in a four-way race in that 2009 election.

He said he has a “significantly different” game plan this year but was not willing to elaborate on details Tuesday night.

“You’ll see some very interesting things and some new ideas that I have,” Bradfield said.

Prussing said the April 9 election will be decided by who shows up at the polls.

“Every election is decided by people who actually show up to vote,” Prussing said. “If you say there’s no problem, then you’ve got a huge problem. You really have to work to get people out to vote.”

As far as a plan for the next few weeks, she said there is not much to say. She plans to run against Bradfield on her record, just as she did with Stratton.

“I don’t have a plan against Rex Bradfield,” Prussing said. “I didn’t have a plan against Les Stratton.”

Stratton on Tuesday night said he was disappointed, but his work is not done.

“I’m going to go back to working on the sidelines and making sure some of issues I raised during the campaign are followed through on,” Stratton said.

Chief among his tasks, he said, will be working with community members in southeast Urbana to make sure crime problems are addressed in a way that residents want. That was one of his central campaign issues during the past few weeks.

“I wish her campaign luck,” Stratton said. “In order to move forward, she really needs to answer some of the questions that were asked during my campaign.”

Prussing said that is what she has been doing every day. She said she meets with a problem-property committee on a weekly basis to make sure property owners in that area are keeping their buildings safe and maintained.

“We do everything we can do to make people shape up or ship out,” Prussing said.

Voter turnout during Tuesday night’s election came in just under 10 percent of eligible voters. Turnout tends to be lower in spring elections — especially a Democrat-only primary election like Tuesday’s — but vote totals still came in well short of the nearly 5,000 ballots cast in Urbana’s last comparable election, a 2005 Democratic primary for mayor.

The campaign now switches its focus to Prussing and Bradfield, who will face off in an April 9 election. Bradfield said on Tuesday night that he liked Stratton’s ideas and would be very open to working with him in the future.

“I did enjoy and I paid great attention to the campaign that both individuals ran,” Bradfield said. “And I enjoyed that there was not a whole lot of muscling. It was focused on the issues.”

But he added that he did not feel either candidate offered much of a solution to the issues.

“Although his (Stratton’s) points were well taken, he wasn’t offering a solution,” Bradfield said. “Laurel (Prussing) was, ‘I’ve done this, I’ve done that.’”

He also points out that 35 percent of Prussing’s own party members voted against her, and he hopes he can convert some of those “disgruntled” voters into supporters of his campaign.

Comments

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Local Yocal wrote on February 27, 2013 at 1:02 am
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Stratton would have had a better chance had he not called for bringing back the City Manager position and then had Tod Saitterthwaite in the room where ever he campaigned. The appearance that Stratton wanted to bring back the "good 'ol boy system" of Tod the Monster, and that Stratton intended to appoint the still-bitter Satterthwaite as City Manager to regain control of the steering wheel of Urbana was a rumor Stratton couldn't overcome. (Stratton refused to answer the question of who he would appoint as City Manager if elected during the one debate with the Mayor.) If you can't get elected to the county board, or get elected back onto the Urbana City Council, might as well see if you can get appointed to the City Manager's position. Nice try, Tod. Pick your political allies better, Les.  

Well, Rex? That guy in your yard is probably the poisenous Tod Saitterthwaite wanting to be your campaign advisor. Learn the lesson of the failed Stratton candidacy.   

cretis16 wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Prussing uses TIF money as a private bank account., wastes an enormous amount of money on the Hotel giveaway, and pumps even more into a ridiculous drainage ditch walkway. She follows the Governor's lead on how to enter an election: Quinn promised state workers a raise, and Prussing wont let any city employee go for any reason? Bradfield to the rescue.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on March 04, 2013 at 12:03 am
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This whole post is crazy.

 

"Bringing back the city manager" is not a matter of choice. It's a matter of law. Urbana, under Hiram Paley's reform-minded leadership, sought to make city government less political.  It's good that Urbana has a "strong mayor" form of government, under Illinois law. But it's also good that Urbana modified its code, 35 years ago, to make Urbana's governance fair to all citizens.

 

The News-Gazette's city hall reporter was all over Prussing about her (thoroughly intentional) failure to appoint a city manager ("administrative officer" per code). It was the major (reported) issue in her last campaign (which is too bad, but newspapers and reporters do have their own agenda).

And then Prussing bought him off. She gave him the job he kept pestering her about, despite his lack of (clearly defined by city code) qualifications.

Why has the News-Gazette never analyzed this hugely important local news story?

She paid him off. He got a 40% increase in salary over his NG job. And now, no one bothers her about running the city as a politcal enterprise, despite the fact that it's illegal.

Trapper wrote on February 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

The mayors race is a disapointment. Urbana had a shot at getting rid of a real dead beat mayor. Maybe by April they will come to thier senses and elect a mayor how can control labor cost, control spending, stop taxing everyone to cover for her short comings in these two areas. And finally a mayor how can bring business back to Urbana.

aantulov wrote on February 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

Yeah maybe a city manager could do for Urbana what's it done for Champaign.  Put  a Buffoon figure head in as mayor to defend a nameless power broker who gives away 30 years worth of taxes for each new project and leaves the schools straped for cash. 

That new building going in at Church and Neil has 30 years tax free status. That's not incentives or business friendly that's a public that's not paying attention and paying way too much in taxes covering the costs of putting this stuff in.  

HOW MANY TAX HIKES HAVE THERE BEEN IN THE LAST TWO YEARS?

You get the goverment you participate in.

SaintClarence27 wrote on March 02, 2013 at 8:03 am

You do realize that the schools and the city are separate entities, right?

aantulov wrote on February 27, 2013 at 7:02 am

AND if we are talking city budgets, why is anyone making over  70,000 a year to manage money even in a pension, can't they manage money?

Pensions are for little people, chop from the top.

Trapper wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 am

Try as hard as it may be to keep your emotions out of your statements it really hurts the points you are trying to show. Im am just trying to say. We need a mayor who will bring business to Urbana that will be a part of a sound tax base. Explain to the folks of Urbana what exactly is the gas tax be used for? The roads are terrible and our spending is up equal to if not more than the gas tax put in place. Control labor. For instance paying parking enforcement officers overtime to set hours at a time in a running vehicle listening to music in the local Wlamart in hopes to write a parking ticket is not good use of our income. The mayors office and other public offices enjoy gross over staffing while our public employees like the police and fire are under staffed and under funded and in high need of equipment up dates. Doesn't any of these items create a sense of question to you and others who live in Urbana. Again just speak sensable with low key emotions and others may start to see merit in your comments.

stopthamadness wrote on February 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

Bradfield should run in the primary as a democrat. Urbana won't vote for a republican ever...even if he was Abe Lincoln.

Joe American wrote on February 27, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Really, Prussing?  I never realized that Urbana was such an enclave of closet Dem racists at the polls.

commmenter wrote on February 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Never thought I'd say this but....... Democrat for Bradfield

johnny wrote on February 28, 2013 at 1:02 am

Urbana actually likes what it has.  Outsiders should give up trying to save it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on March 02, 2013 at 9:03 am

johnny, your right.  That is why many of us moved out of Urbana.  More, and more are doing it.  What were once great neighborhoods are now in decline.  Urbana works hard at getting state, and federal grant monies; but those are drying up, thank goodness.  Most twin cities have one that declines.  Urbana is the one in C-U.

Bulldogmojo wrote on March 02, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Yup Urbandia certainly embraces their half baked priorities with a death grip. Brick streets first. Everything else second. (It's a delicate ecology)