Renominate Mayor Prussing
Mayor Laurel Prussing has earned a shot at a third term in office.
Democratic voters in Urbana will go the polls on Tuesday to choose their party's nominee, and given the heavily Democratic bent of voters there, probably the city's next mayor.
Two-term incumbent Laurel Prussing is seeking another term in office, and she's being challenged by retired city employee Les Stratton. Based on her long public record, including an effective two terms as Urbana's chief executive, The News-Gazette endorses Prussing for her party's nomination.
Over her long public career, Prussing has shown she is immensely capable, willing to make hard decisions and tireless in pursuit of her policy goals. That, of course, is what some of her critics dislike most about Prussing — her hard-charging style and tremendous self-confidence. Agree or not, it's called leadership, and she is a strong leader.
That said, Prussing's Democratic opponent offers a sound alternative to those who do not share the incumbent's view of how the city should be run. During his campaign, Stratton has presented a credible alternative to current city policies and a different approach for the future.
Politics is about conflicting visions of how best to achieve common goals. Stratton, a former supervisor in the city's public works department and union official, is intimately familiar with municipal issues and offers different solutions on budget and law enforcement issues.
Where Prussing contends that she works well and corroboratively with the seven-member city council, Stratton argues that there is too much agreement between mayor and council. He said he'd like to see more debate and he's willing to provide it.
Where Prussing contends city finances are in reasonable shape, given years of economic recession and lagging recovery, Stratton says the mayor has spent too much and depleted the city's cash reserves.
Where Prussing contends city investments in Urbana's Landmark Hotel and Boneyard improvements are necessary steps to move ahead, Stratton argues they were either mishandled or unnecessary and help put the city behind the financial eight ball.
Where Prussing contends that the city is continuing an effective campaign to address crime issues in southeast Urbana, Stratton argues that more could be done, perhaps using funds now set aside for firefighters' overtime to hire more police officers.
On a whole host of issues, Prussing says X and Stratton argues Y. Reasonable people can disagree.
This is what election campaigns are supposed to be about, and Stratton is correct when he states that "there is a clear choice."
It's our hope that voters will reward the candidates' efforts with a strong turnout on Tuesday. It's no secret that spring elections are notoriously low-turnout events. Two years ago, Champaign residents disgraced themselves with a turnout of less than 20 percent in that city's mayoral race.
Voting is about more than demonstrating civic virtue, it's about governance, and voters get exactly the government they deserve.
No one can say there aren't real issues or credible candidates in this race.
But the more credible candidate in this election is, in our view, the more experienced candidate — Prussing. Her body of work over decades of public service demonstrates that she is not just knowledgeable on public issues but a person who can get things done.
This quality is best exemplified by her lonely campaign to keep the University of Illinois' Police Training Institute here rather than being transferred to Western Illinois University in Macomb. This effort required Prussing to work with top UI officials, state legislators, the governor's office and members of the Illinois Law Enforcement and Training Standards Board.
From both the outside and the inside, it sometimes appeared to be a quixotic campaign. But Prussing and others working with her were ultimately successful.
That's leadership and that's why we believe that Prussing — despite our occasional disagreements on some issues — has earned renomination.