Ex-auditor challenging incumbent in Champaign County District 6 Dem primary

CHAMPAIGN — A former Champaign County auditor, dissuaded from running for another term after reports that he seldom showed up for work, is running to get back on the county board in District 6.

The incumbent is being criticized for proposing an increase in the county's public-safety sales tax and for being part of what her opponent called a "dysfunctional" county board.

The Democratic primary in District 6 — generally central and northwest Champaign from Kirby Avenue on the south to Bloomington Road on the north and Prospect Avenue on the east to Duncan Road on the west — pits challenger Tony Fabri against one-term incumbent Pattsi Petrie.

Fabri, who not only was a county board member and county auditor but also chairman of the county Democratic Party for five years, said he's eager to get back into politics.

"I don't think that it's such a crazy thing, because I am someone who cares deeply about Champaign County. I care deeply about the county board," said Fabri, 41, a self-described full-time parent who calls the current county board "a train wreck."

Petrie, 76, said she's running "to continue the progress we've made in this county."

She hasn't made an issue of Fabri's problems in the auditor's office, but he has hit her for a plan to double the county's quarter-cent public-safety sales tax — an idea that went nowhere — in order to pay for criminal-justice system reforms.

"My opponent proposed a doubling of the county's public-safety sales tax to pay for these programs. I don't think that's the way to go," Fabri said.

"That was done at a Democratic caucus. I asked for it to be put on the agenda. It got nowhere," Petrie said. "I alone cannot do it. The county board alone cannot do it. This has to be a referendum for all of you citizens to make such a decision."

Fabri also criticized her for opposing restaurant inspection placards in areas of the county outside Champaign-Urbana.

She said she "spent a great deal of time trying to ... figure out a compromise" on the placard system.

"The reason it didn't pass on the county board was that the ... members in the rural areas were very concerned as to how some of the criteria for the safety of the restaurants would impinge on the rural restaurants," Petrie said.

While the two agree on continuing support for the county nursing home, instituting re-entry programs for ex-offenders and the need for a county building code and inspection program, they also differ on looking into combining county offices and raises for countywide officials.

Fabri said there are no offices he'd eliminate or combine, while Petrie said she'd be willing to find "efficiencies that reduce the costs of county government for taxpayers."

She also said she'd support 2 percent pay raises for the county sheriff, clerk and treasurer, while Fabri said "the current salaries are sufficient to attract quality candidates for these positions."

MEET THE CANDIDATES

Tony Fabri

Home address: 308 N. Edwin St., C.
Date of birth: Nov. 8, 1972.
Occupation: Full-time parent.
Political experience: Ran for Champaign City Council in 1995; Champaign County Board member, 2000-08; Democratic Party Chairman, 2004-09; Champaign County auditor, 2008-12.
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Illinois, 1996; law degree, UI College of Law, 2004.

Pattsi Petrie

Home address: 503 S. Chicago Ave., C.
Date of birth: Jan. 31, 1937.
Occupation: County board member; retired after teaching urban and regional planning at University of Illinois; current business P2 Consulting.
Political experience: Elected to county board in 2010; re-elected in 2012.
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Colorado; master's in urban planning, UI; Ph.D., UI.

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):2014 election

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TheVulnerableBede wrote on March 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm

There is an error in the biographical sketch. Fabri was auditor from early 2007 through 2012. So, it was for six years, not merely four, that he was paid for his absenteeism, which amounted to nearly $.5 Million.

Did the candidate submit this himself? It contradicts what the News-Gazette knows:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2007-01-11/board-votes-19-7-make-...

Moreover, Fabri simultaneously held both Auditor and the partisan position of County Democratic Chairman for three years. The "Meet the Candidates" section at the end gives the impression that there was only one year of overlap. Not so.

Lancea Longini wrote on March 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Normally, April Fool's Day tradition calls for running a story like this on April 1.  Is that moving up just like Black Friday sales?

TJ1971 wrote on March 10, 2014 at 7:03 pm

The April Fools will be the voters of Champaign County if the joker Fabri gets elected.  The audacity of Tony Fabri to collect years of a handsome salary without showing up to work.  And he thinks he can return to politics because he "loves" Champaign County?!  That's a tainted love we can do without.  Go away Tony Fabri !

Mahomet Democrat wrote on March 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

The republicans have a candidate for the 6th county board district.  If Tony Fabri is the democratic nominee, that republican will surely win leaving us with an 11-11 deadlocked board!  Do you think it's hard to agree on a board chairman now?  Just wait! 

just_wondering wrote on March 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

... said the lone democrat in Mahomet...

bluegrass wrote on March 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

Oh boy, this is really the best.  I feel a little sorry for Patsie because I respect her attitude, and her comments, and the way she presents them even if I don't always agree with her policy positions.

That being said, to have Toni Fabri back in the news is soooooo great.  If you're new to the area or politics, if I may.......  While on the County Board, Toni fought to have the position of Auditor removed, arguing that it was a waste of tax money to pay an elected official to do this job, since there were other, more qualified people doing the actual work of the position.  Months later, and by way of political handout, he gratefully accepted an appointment to the very same County Auditor post.  All this could have almost been overlooked, except Toni never bothered to actually go to work.  When confronted about his no-show status, Toni defended how hard he was working while he wasn't there.  It's really beautiful.

Sue Champaign wrote on March 16, 2014 at 9:03 am

Did you see his latest mailing? Tony Fabri-cated a charge against his opponent that is just insulting to the voter. He says she wants to "double your sales tax". Really? From 8.75% to 17.5% ?! Not at all. The truth: Pattsi Petrie favored the consideration of doubling the 1/4 cent public safety tax that State's Attorney Julia Rietz has requested for needed improvements to properly segregate female from male prisoners in the juvenile detention facility, among other needs. That would take the sales tax from 8.75% to 9%. Not exactly a five-alarm alert.

RFM wrote on March 16, 2014 at 11:03 am

If Tony Fabri is nominated, I will vote for the Republican candidate in November. If that results in a tied board (and who thought to give us an even-numbered board?) and we get gridlock, so be it.

GEO Steward wrote on March 16, 2014 at 11:03 am

Yeah, Tony Fabri Cation—now that is apt!—is as misleading in his postcard as he is in his candidate biography submission. There is no way Tom Kacich mistook his six-year reign of parasitism for only four. Why hasn't the News-Gazette not called him out on that misrepresentation? Apparently, Fabri wants us to think he got paid for only $320,000 of nonperformance of duties instead of $480,000 plus.

Tom 1 wrote on March 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Tony Fabri is SHAMELESS. How else could he be a job no-show, collect taxpayer money, and think he can run for political office again. He's shameless and it's disgusting. District 6 people: DON'T VOTE FOR FABRI

Carol 49 wrote on March 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm

It's good The News-Gazette and others are highlighting Tony Fabri's years of "service" as county auditor. The voters should beware. Having Fabri in elected office is both costly and embarrassing. So let's just hope the voters in Champaign County Board District 6 remember that on primary Election Day.

DennisUC wrote on March 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I believe that Tony Fabri wants another county position to lock in a greater pension for years of non-service in county government. Actually he should be prosecuted for taking years of salary and benefits for a job that he did not show up to. He is another Illinois politician who takes and takes. DON'T VOTE FOR TONY FABRI.

Politically Observant wrote on March 16, 2014 at 9:03 pm

And our potential future state treasurer used his political treasure in support of Tony Fabri. What does that say about his fiscal responsibility?

Politically Observant wrote on March 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm

With over half a million dollars paid to Fabri in salary and benefits, we can't afford to re-elect him.