Dems will have primaries in four county board races
URBANA — Champaign County Democratic voters will have primary races in four of 11 county board districts in March.
And one of their new candidates is an old one — former County Auditor Tony Fabri is challenging incumbent Pattsi Petrie in County Board District 6, in central and northwestern Champaign.
Fabri is a veteran county board member who served as auditor until last December. He opted not to run for re-election after The News-Gazette and several county board members, Republicans and Democrats, alleged that he was seldom in his office. He was replaced by Republican John Farney.
"I have a continued desire to serve the public and I've been pretty unhappy with the county board in recent years," said Fabri. "I think they can use some new blood, even if that's some more experienced new blood."
Fabri served on the board from 2001 to 2006. He said he is now a stay-at-home father with a 2-year-old daughter.
"I like Pattsi. I've supported Pattsi in the past, and if she wins I'll support her in November," said Fabri, 41.
But he said he was disappointed in Petrie's advocacy for doubling the county's quarter-cent public safety sales tax, and added that he wanted to see "more leadership in favor of the county nursing home."
Although Democrats are opposing each other in four county board districts, there are no Democrats running for countywide offices, including county clerk, treasurer or sheriff. Nor are Democrats running in four mostly rural county board districts — 2, 3, 4 and 5.
And there are no Republicans running in four of the six urban districts — 8, 9, 10 and 11.
Monday was the deadline for filing petitions of candidacy for the March 18 primary election, and only four county board hopefuls — Fabri, Democratic challenger Brent West of Champaign, Democrat Eugenia Lamb Watson in District 1 and Republican incumbent Aaron Esry — made their campaigns official by filing documents at the county clerk's office.
West, 31, ran in 2012 and finished third in a three-way race for two seats in District 11, falling far behind incumbents Lorraine Cowart and Lloyd Carter.
This time he's going up only against Cowart, who was the top vote-getter last year.
"I am interested in working in the public sector and public service, and giving back to the community," said West, an assistant director in the University of Illinois' Department of Records and Information Management Services. "I think I'm closely aligned with Lorraine in terms of political philosophies, such as not spending so much money on a new county jail and working more on diversion programs and community justice first."
He said he was not running against Cowart.
"I just want to be another option for people to choose from," he said.
Meanwhile, Esry of rural St. Joseph filed Monday morning to run for another term.
"I just didn't have (the petitions) done. I just hadn't gotten around to it," he said. "I had always planned on running again. There was never any doubt in my mind."
Esry, 39, who represents a rural district that includes areas east and southeast of Urbana, was appointed to the board in 2011 and won election in 2012.
Watson ran in District 1 last year and finished fourth in a four-way race with about 11 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, no new candidates filed in Springfield Monday to run in area congressional or legislative districts.
Here's how the county's March 18 primary election ballot will appear:
County Clerk — Republican Gordy Hulten
County Treasurer — Republican Dan Welch
County Sheriff — Republican Dan Walsh
County Board District 1 — Republican Gary Maxwell of rural Mahomet
District 2 — Republican Jack Anderson of Rantoul
District 3 — Republican Aaron Esry of rural St. Joseph
District 4 — Republican Jim McGuire of Champaign
District 5 — Republican Max Mitchell of Champaign
District 6 — incumbent Democrat Pattsi Petrie and Tony Fabri; Republican Dan Jackson, all of Champaign
District 7 — incumbent Democrat Alan Kurtz and challenger C. Pius Weibel, Republican Tom Grey; all of Champaign
District 8 — Democrat Scott Redenbaugh of Champaign
District 9 — incumbent Democrat Ralph Langenheim of Urbana and challenger Shana Jo Harrison of Savoy
District 10 — incumbent Democrat Chris Alix of Urbana
District 11 — incumbent Democrat Lorraine Cowart and challenger Brent West, both of Champaign