LIVE! Marlin wins Urbana primary (w/video)

LIVE! Marlin wins Urbana primary (w/video)

Questions for 40-year political writer Tom Kacich? Ask them here


New at 9:15 Tuesday:

Diane Marlin’s next challenger — Republican Rex Bradfield — spent Tuesday night following the results from home.

After wishing all three Democratic contenders well and offering congratulations on a "nice, honest" campaign, the engineer issued a plea to voters in his Democrat-dominated home city.

"I ask that the general public listen to the answers and decide which direction they want the city to go in," Bradfield said by phone just after 9 p.m.. "Please don’t make this just a division of political beliefs."

— Jeff D’Alessio


8:25 p.m. Tuesday:

Final unofficial results from Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten show Urbana Alderwoman Diane Marlin easily winning the Democratic primary. The 4,254 votes cast well surpassed both Hulten's prediction of 3,000 and the 1,991 ballots cast in a two-way primary four years ago. The unofficial results:

23 of 23 precincts reporting

Candidate Votes Percent
Diane Marlin* 2,427 57.1
Laurel Prussing 1,510 35.5
Evelyn Underwood 316 7.4
Total 4,254 100.0

Political writer Tom Kacich weighs in on what a Marlin victory in the April 4 general election may mean:

— One of the first things she has said she’d do is to hire a professional city administrator, something the city hasn’t had for most of Mayor Laurel Prussing’s tenure. Prussing said she felt competent enough to handle that role herself.

— The big redevelopment plan for the 95-year-old hotel building in downtown Urbana (most recently known as the Urbana Landmark Hotel) is on very thin ice. Marlin called the redevelopment scheme — which hasn’t been made public yet — "a huge risk to taxpayers." She said she favors building a new, environmentally friendly hotel and convention center on the site.

— The war of words between Carle and the city will fade away. Marlin says she believes hospitals should pay property taxes and shouldn’t get a tax exemption for providing charity care. But she has also said she wants to have a more productive working arrangement with the big health care provider on the north side of the city.

Marlin talked to WDWS' Michael Kiser and Tim Ditman shortly after her victory:

And Mayor Laurel Prussing discussed her loss:


8 p.m. Tuesday:

Results are trickling in from Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten. The following table shows total amounts, including early votes, as of the time indicated above:

7 of 23 precincts reporting

Candidate Votes Percent
Diane Marlin 1,402 55.8
Laurel Prussing 868 34.5
Evelyn Underwood 243 9.7
Total 2,514 100.0


7:45 p.m. Tuesday:

The News-Gazette's Natalie Wickman joined WDWS to break down the mayoral race. Listen here.


7:20 p.m. Tuesday:

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten has released the results of the 866 ballots cast during the early-voting period that ended Monday. They are as follows:

Candidate Votes
Diane Marlin 574
Laurel Prussing 203
Evelyn Underwood 89


7:15 p.m. Tuesday:

It all comes down to voter turnout, according to Mayor Laurel Prussing.

With tonight's Democratic primary results, she'll discover if she can continue her 12-year Urbana mayoral career or must pass along the reins.

The other candidates are Urbana Alderwoman Diane Marlin and Evelyn Burnett Underwood, a New Free Will Baptist Church associate pastor. Tonight's winner will move on to face the Republican candidate, engineer Rex Bradfield, in the April 4 general election.

About 20 minutes before the polls closed at 7 p.m., Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said that expected voter turnout is around 4,000. City Democrats previously told The News-Gazette that they'll be happy with turnout approaching 5,000, which mirrors the 2005 mayoral primary, when Prussing unseated Mayor Tod Satterthwaite.

"Every election depends on turnout," Prussing said tonight. "If it's low, it's probably not good for me because Republicans turn out more than Democrats do."

Prussing spent the day at work in the morning and then at the University of Illinois quad in the afternoon to pass out fliers and encourage student voting.

"On campus, it's hard to get students excited about state-level races, let alone local elections," Prussing said. "Some (students) knew about the election and they seemed to be pretty enthusiastic when I told them who I was.

"Some of them had seen my ads and I got a very nice response but you have to ask a lot of people first."

There was some confusion, Prussing said, about where voting was taking place in the Illini Union. She said at first it was in the basement, but then it changed to a different floor.

Overall, Prussing said she has no idea how the night will play out.

"We got endorsed by the Illinois Democrats, The News-Gazette and the (Bernie) Sanders political movement, so that sort of covers a broad range of people, so we'll see," Prussing said. "I think I have a good record as mayor, and every election hinges on turnout."

— Natalie Wickman


6 p.m. Tuesday:

If Diane Marlin loses the Urbana mayoral primary election this evening, she’ll also have to say goodbye to elected office as a whole, she said. 

In April, her seat on the Urbana city council — which she’s held since 2009 — is up for grabs, so the future of her career in public office will be determined this evening.

As one of three candidates running for the Democratic nomination — along with Evelyn Burnett Underwood and incumbent Laurel Prussing — Marlin says she’s spent the day trying to stay busy. She voted for herself at 10 a.m. at the Clark Lindsey precinct and ran a Rotary meeting at noon, as president of the club.

She spent some time campaigning this afternoon, she said, shaking hands with some people around Urbana and making some phone calls.

She even took a little break to get her hair done.

Marlin is planning to spend the rest of the evening at Silvercreek Restaurant in Urbana with family and friends. Despite the calm day she’s had so far, she says she’s “nervous,” but mostly excited to see the results.

“I think I have a good chance and I just have to wait and see what voters decide,” she told Nicole Lafond just after 5 p.m. Tuesday. 

“... This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’ll be very relieved when this part is over,” she said, reflecting on the past year she’s spent campaigning for her mayoral run.

“I’ve learned a lot about digital marketing and I’ve met a lot of new people and been to places in Urbana that I wasn’t previously familiar with.”

If things are looking in her favor tonight, she’ll head to the Brookens Administrative Center to celebrate her win. She says she hopes to have the chance to run against Republican mayoral challenger Rex Bradfield come April 4.

“It will be intense,” she said.

— Nicole Lafond


4:48 p.m. Tuesday:

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten told WDWS that if severe weather affects voting, officials will seek a court order to keep polls open past 7 p.m. Listen to the podcast here.


3 p.m. Tuesday:

Voter turnout in Urbana’s three-way Democratic mayoral primary already has surpassed the 1,991 who voted in a two-way primary four years ago.

As of about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday the turnout in a dozen of the city’s 23 precincts amounted to 1,148 voters. That sum, combined with 866 early votes cast by Monday, equalled 2,014.

But whether the total comes close to the nearly 5,000 who voted in a similar three-way Democratic primary 12 years ago, is not certain.

Turnout was wildly disparate Tuesday, with 225 voters (as of 1:30 p.m.) at the Cunningham 14 polling place at Clark-Lindsey Village in south Urbana, and only 29 at Cunnnigham 6, which votes at the Vineyard Church in north Urbana.

A precinct judge at the Vineyard reported that he had to turn away several would-be voters because they lived just outside the city limits but wanted to vote in the primary between Mayor Laurel Prussing and challengers Diane Marlin and Evelyn Burnettt Underwood.

The strongest turnout seemed to be in southeast Urbana, now represented on the Urbana City Council by Marlin.

Two polling places on South Philo Road — Quest United Methodist Church and St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church — reported vote totals of 115 and 159, respectively.

But turnout at the campus-area voting center at the Illini Union — which services four campus-area precincts, plus is a polling place for any other precinct — was embarrassingly small with only 32 voters as of 2 p.m.

The turnout at Cunningham 11 and 12, which vote at the Urbana City Building, was 163 voters as of 1:30 p.m.

The First Presbyterian Church on Green Street, in the city’s center, reported a total of just 105 voters for two precincts, Cunningham 7 and 8.

The Twin City Bible Church, at Michigan and Lincoln avenues, reported 137 voters as of 2:20 p.m.

— Tom Kacich


2:11 p.m. Tuesday:

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten expects around 3,000 votes to be cast in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Urbana mayor.

That's below an earlier estimate of 5,000 but above the Urbana mayoral primary four years ago when around 2,000 votes were cast.

Hulten added that things have been running smoothly at polling places Tuesday.  Nearly 1,000 people have cast votes Tuesday, according to updates on Hulten's twitter account.  He said the most popular locations have been his office, with 218 votes, and the Urbana city building, with 147 votes.

Prior to today, 866 people voted early.

Hulten is also encouraging you to get to the polls early, with storms in the forecast this afternoon and evening.

— Tim Ditman


7 a.m. Tuesday:

It's Election Day in Urbana (updates beginning at 7 p.m. on WDWS 1400-AM). What you ought to know as we wait to find out which Democrat will face Republican mayoral challenger Rex Bradfield on April 4:

— Polls are open in Urbana from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. It shouldn't take long to vote; there's just one item on the ballot — choosing among Evelyn Burnett Underwood, Diane Marlin or incumbent Laurel Prussing for the Democratic nomination for mayor. There is no Republican primary for mayor.

— Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said that 866 early votes had been cast by the close of business Monday. That's about 17 percent of the 5,000 voters that some had hoped would turn out for the primary.

— Weather shouldn't be an issue as long as voters go to the polls before 6 p.m. The National Weather Service forecasts a record high of 68 degrees, with rain chances low between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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wayward wrote on February 28, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Just voted (for Diane Marlin) at the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church.

rockwinkle wrote on February 28, 2017 at 7:02 pm
Profile Picture

 I voted for Marlin too...her hair won my vote!

fortherecord wrote on February 28, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Only 4,200 people voted? Yikes! 

787 wrote on March 01, 2017 at 7:03 am

Urbana is supposedly SOOOO politically progressive...

Except when it comes to a Mayoral primary.   Then, most of them can't be bothered to vote.  What a sad joke.

On Tuesday, 53 votes were cast in Cunningham 2, 3, 4, and 5.    But the County Board democrats can't be bothered to save $10,000 to consolidate polling places.   Typical, and another sad joke.

Save the Farms wrote on March 01, 2017 at 7:03 am

40% of us can't vote because we're Republican.

I like the idea of a new hotel and conference center - maybe make it big enough for concerts.

A new day for Urbana - congratulations to Mayor Marlin.

lcoil79 wrote on March 01, 2017 at 8:03 am

She's not mayor yet, still gotta beat the Republican candidate in the main election.

chief21 wrote on March 01, 2017 at 8:03 am

Who was the last Republican to win ANY political race in Urbana?  Abe Lincoln?

lcoil79 wrote on March 01, 2017 at 8:03 am

True, but right now it's not a very good plan for any Democrat to begin decorating their office before it's official, look what happened to HRC.

Urbanagirl2 wrote on March 02, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Mayor Markland. He was the longest running mayor in Urbana, with 16 years. 

I too am a republican, but I voted in the primaries. Why? Because this town is blue & if a Democrat is going to win the mayor election... I want my vote to be AGAINST Laurel. 

mckyj57 wrote on March 04, 2017 at 10:03 am

And what has happened to the fiscal health of Urbana as a result? Or on a state level, the fiscal health of Illinois?

burl55 wrote on March 02, 2017 at 11:03 am

The main thing is that enough people voted to make sure that Laurel is FINALLY out to pasture! Now maybe the hotel and Lincoln Square can be demolished and something built on that site that people will come to. 


Urbanagirl2 wrote on March 02, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Agreed! However, it's the same lame council. 

bb wrote on March 07, 2017 at 12:03 pm


Actually there will be 3 new council members.  Only two of the 7 on the new council will have been there more than 4 years.