Business group backs Feinen

Business group backs Feinen

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CHAMPAIGN — In the first major endorsement of the spring election campaign, a pro-business group is endorsing Deborah Feinen for mayor of Champaign and Kerris Lee, Amy Armstrong, Kathy Shannon and Chris Kloeppel for the Champaign school board.

The announcement by the Champaign County Business Empowered PAC, whose officers include members of the County Chamber of Commerce and which has the same address as the chamber, came on the same day that Feinen reported receiving a second $5,000 campaign contribution from local home builder William Peifer. Peifer also gave $5,000 to Feinen's campaign on Jan. 14.

Since Jan. 1 Feinen has reported $16,000 in campaign donations, on top of the $26,814 she had on Dec. 31, 2014.

None of the other mayoral candidates has reported a campaign contribution of $1,000 or more since Jan. 1.

In making its recommendations for the April 7 election, the Business Empowered PAC rejected two incumbents — Champaign Mayor Don Gerard and school board member Jamar Brown. 

In the four-way race for mayor it also rejected Council member Karen Foster and park board president Joe Petry.

In the eight-person school board race the candidates not receiving endorsements were Kathy Richards, Alissia Young, Azark David Cobbs and Brown.

Each candidate for mayor and all but two candidates for the school board took part in the endorsement process, said the PAC.

“The PAC board believes Deborah Frank Feinen is the best choice for mayor of Champaign,” said Jim Goss, Business Empowered PAC board chairman and director of farm management for the Atkins Group. “It is clear the city of Champaign needs change at its highest office and there are many good quality candidates running. Personalities have gotten in the way of progress for job creators in the city of Champaign, and while a few of the candidates would be a positive step for the city of Champaign, we believe Mrs. Feinen to have the most solid record of being a pro-business advocate and has been the most active candidate to embrace the business community for their expertise in forming policy for city government for the past several years.”

Goss said the reference to “personalities” was not a criticism aimed only at Gerard.
   “We’re just talking in generalities,” he said. “That personalities have gotten in the way.”
  In the school board race the Pac noted, “Just as we believe change is needed in leadership in the city of Champaign, the PAC perceives leadership and transparency to be lacking for some time within the Unit 4 school district’s current leadership,” Goss said. “The candidates endorsed for Unit 4 School District Board of Education are a very diverse group who have very different ideas for solutions to the school district’s problems and have shown a willingness to work with the business community into the future.”

There wasn’t any particular theme to the school board endorsements, he said.
   "We thought that each brought some specific skill set that would be good for the school board,” he said. “Under no circumstances do we think they should be a group or did they come in and present themselves as a group.”
   Goss said Lee, already a school board member, “brings a very unique entrepreneurial experience that the school board desperately needs.

“In his short time on the school board, Kerris has proven himself to be a true leader and voice for reason. His proposal for a Midwest Entrepreneur Center is one of the most innovative and sound proposals to come out of the school board in some time.”

Armstrong, Goss said, “has spent the past few years being a grassroots warrior for parents, students and the community. It is her drive for answers and tenacity to

seek the best solutions for our children which has earned our endorsement.”

Shannon, Goss said, “is the only endorsed candidate who does not support the current referendum for Central High School. We felt it important to endorse a very diverse group of individuals willing to embrace the business community that can collaborate together and come to consensus. In her interview, Kathy showed she had researched the issues facing our current school board thoroughly and is willing to embrace new and innovative ideas for the betterment of our children.”

Kloeppel, a union plumber and pipefitter, has “labor relations that will be valuable to the board for union negotiations. During his interview, Chris showed

his willingness to bring job creators and labor leaders together to create a collaborative effort for all stake holders.”

Each of the endorsements comes with a campaign contribution, Goss said, although he was unsure what amount is.
“I can’t remember exactly what we decided,” he said. “You’ll have to find it once the (campaign finance) report goes out.”
He said Feinen would receive more financial support than the school board hopefuls.


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parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on March 02, 2015 at 11:03 am

Any political support by the Atkins group for a candidate means taxpayer money wasted on land development.  How disgusting.

johnny wrote on March 02, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Good Lord.  I may have to overlook my partisan lean and just vote for everybody these chuckleheads "rejected."