Champaign County Board's Hartke resigns ahead of move to Colorado

Champaign County Board's Hartke resigns ahead of move to Colorado

URBANA — The head of the Democratic Party caucus on the Champaign County Board has resigned, effective April 30.

Josh Hartke of Champaign will be moving to Colorado, said board Chairman C. Pius Weibel.

Hartke has been the board’s strongest voice for maintaining county operation of the county-owned nursing home.

“I am proud of the work done, despite huge obstacles in our way and the constant, unwavering opposition of the Republicans on the board,” Hartke wrote in his resignation letter to Weibel. “Maintaining the nursing home as a public resource is a victory. Not spending millions of dollars on a new jail is a victory as well.

“We created the Racial Justice Task Force and are moving forward with implementing their directives. With hard work from a group of committed local activists, I am leaving the county board Democratic caucus stronger, more diverse, more progressive and more united than it has been.”

Hartke encouraged the 11 remaining board Democrats to stay loyal to their values, “the ones that motivate our base to support us. Remember that the services provided by the nursing home are just as important as those provided by the recorder or the sheriff, that justice comes in enabling and supporting those who need it most, not just in punishing those who make mistakes, and that budgets are statements of priorities.”

It’s unclear how and when the seat Hartke is vacating will be filled. In the past, precinct committeemen from a board member’s district — in this case, District 6 in northwest Champaign — have met to choose a replacement, with their recommendation then advanced to the county board.

Pattsi Petrie, the other District 6 representative on the board, said Friday that she is interested in applying for Hartke’s seat.

Petrie was defeated in the Democratic primary last month by Mike Ingram, a candidate backed by Hartke.

Petrie said she believes she could quit her current seat early — her term expires Dec. 1 — and apply for Hartke’s seat, whose term she contends would run until December 2020.

“It would be a gamble,” she said. “It’s a calculated risk, and I don’t know what the rules of the road are.”

Petrie, a former chair of the county board and member for more than seven years, said “it’s a very important time to maintain people with institutional history on that board because of the large nascency of members on the county board.”

Hartke, 43, has served on the board since 2012. He also ran for Congress in 2002 in the old 15th Congressional District, losing to former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson of Urbana.

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