Shunned county board pick: 'This is all about race and gender'

Shunned county board pick: 'This is all about race and gender'

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URBANA — On the night that attorney Tracy Douglas fulfilled a dream by being sworn in as the newest member of the Champaign County Board from District 6, rival Charles Young stole the show with a blistering attack against fellow Democrats.

Young, a retired education historian at the University of Illinois, thought he had possession of the county board seat once held by Democrat Josh Hartke following a vote by precinct committeemen on May 17.

But after county board Chairman C. Pius Weibel cried foul, expressing concerns over some irregularities in that meeting, including the length of time given for notification and the alleged counting of votes representing areas not part of the district, Democratic Party leaders ordered a do-over.

"According to central committee rules, notification is supposed to be five days," Weibel said. "Only two days were given."

When the precinct committeemen assembled for the re-vote on June 10, it was Douglas, not Young, who emerged victorious.

According to Weibel, Young did not attend the June 10 meeting for the re-vote.

Thursday was swearing-in day for Douglas, who took the oath of office from County Clerk Gordy Hulten following a 15-4 ratification vote by the board.

Young used the meeting as an opportunity to launch criticism against the Democrats who left him on the outside looking in.

"This is all about race and gender," Young said. "To the chair of the Champaign County Board and his sneaky Democratic colleagues and friends, your political process of voting with the new female candidate that you always wanted is illegal, unconstitutional, a scam, a hoax and a dishonor to the entire Democratic Party."

Young described the circumstances as racist.

"You and your county-board good-ol'-boys team promised your male friend who previously held the vacant seat that it would be filled by another friend of y'all by any means necessary, even it required sophisticated racist practices to accomplish it," he said.

Douglas, for her part, took the high road, saying she is excited to be a part of the county board.

"I am excited to continue my public service career and serve the public of Champaign County," she said.

Douglas, 33, is a supervising attorney at the University of Illinois College of Law's community preservation clinic. Her term on the county board runs through Nov. 30.

"I serve the public in my role at the clinic," she said. "When there was an opening on the county board, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do more. I think my voice on the board will be helpful because I am an attorney working with a wide variety of clients."

Following the meeting, Young told The News-Gazette he intends to run for the District 6 county board seat in an upcoming election.

"It has been very, very bad to go through this," Young said. "To see this happen has been devastating as an African-American. People don't know our feeling until you are in our skin."

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