Danville Ward 3 challenger part of suit that changed government

Danville Ward 3 challenger part of suit that changed government

DANVILLE — Alderman Bill Gilbert is running for his third term as a Ward 3 alderman in Tuesday's election, but he's being challenged by a longtime Danville community member who was part of the lawsuit in the 1980s that changed Danville from a commission form of government to the current mayor-aldermanic form.

R.J. Davis said he was one of the seven plaintiffs in the lawsuit in the early 1980s that led to Danville's current system in which the city is divided into seven wards with two aldermen representing each ward. And Davis said he believes he can make a difference representing his ward.

Gilbert, a Danville native, said he knows the community and his constituents well, and now has eight years' experience on the council.

"I've struggled with finances just like the rest of my constituents," he said. "So I know where they are and where they are coming from, and I feel that makes me a good representative of the residents in my" ward.

Gilbert, whose wife, April, serves as the other Ward 3 alderman, said through Boy Scouts and his nursing education, he has learned communication and leadership skills that make him a good alderman.

Davis said he believes aldermen should make a point of working together on issues in their wards. He said he believes in aldermen working as a team, and he would work toward that not only with the other Ward 3 alderman, but also with those in wards 1, 2 and 4.

"There needs to be a closer relationship of the aldermen," said Davis, who supports neighborhood meetings in Ward 3. He said streets and sewers are an issue because Ward 3 had been neglected for so many years prior to the change in government, but major concerns are neighborhood safety and the future for children. He said Danville police are doing a good job, but the city needs to stay on top of crime in Ward 3.

For the city as a whole, Davis said it needs to be supportive of small business and the creation of jobs. He said he looks forward as an alderman to having input into the viability of industry in Danville.

Gilbert said Ward 3 is one of the lowest-income wards, and the biggest issues are unemployment and crime. He said the city needs to strive to get more business in Danville. With more jobs available, he said, more people have money, and crime decreases.

Gilbert said the city has made great strides in improving infrastructure, but there are still streets, especially for a city this size, that are in sad condition.

He said he's been fighting for something to be done with Pries Street in his ward. He said it's still one of the worst in the city, and with expansion occurring at businesses in that neighborhood, there is the opportunity for Pries Street to be addressed along with planned infrastructure improvements to side streets near the businesses.

"I hope that street will be fixed with those side streets," he said.

The candidates

Bill Gilbert

Address: 1200 Dakota St.

Age: 37.

Occupation: Drug and alcohol counselor.

Education: Bachelor's in nursing, Lakeview College of Nursing.

Political experience: Two terms as Danville alderman.

R.J. Davis

Address: 1308 E. Main St.

Age: 76.

Occupation: Retired Danville city inspector.

Education: Fayetteville State University; Moody Bible Institute.

Political experience: None.

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