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
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.
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.