URBANA — Just as one election ends, another is gearing up.
Retired Urbana public works employee and Democrat Leslie Stratton says he is officially in the race to unseat Democratic Mayor Laurel Prussing as candidates for city offices make their final preparations before they are allowed to start filing their papers to get their names on spring ballots.
The official candidacy filing periods in Champaign and Urbana open Monday and run through Nov. 26, but some candidates have for months been circulating petitions and collecting the signatures they need before they are allowed to file.
Stratton has been campaigning for the past several weeks around his disapproval of what he calls a mishandled deal with the owner of the Landmark Hotel, but he made his candidacy official on Thursday during a sparsely attended press conference at the Urbana Civic Center. There, he introduced three-term Urbana mayor Tod Satterthwaite as part of his team.
Prussing defeated Satterthwaite in a 2005 Democratic primary election, and the loss ended Satterthwaite's 12-year run as Urbana's mayor.
The faceoff between Stratton and Prussing will be first up in a Feb. 26 Democratic primary. The winner likely will be campaigning against Republican Rex Bradfield during the April 9 election.
Stratton also criticized a project to beautify the Boneyard Creek in the northern part of downtown Urbana, which will cost the city $9 million by the time it is done. He said that money could have been better spent to revitalize downtown Urbana "so it becomes a destination, not an alternative."
Officials broke ground on the project on Wednesday. There, Prussing said the project will be a great amenity to boost the quality of life for Urbana residents and drive more traffic to downtown Urbana. City officials have touted the Boneyard Creek project and another $1.45 million in city assistance for the renovation and reopening of the Landmark Hotel as important economic development projects for the area.
Elsewhere on the Urbana City Council, these candidates have been circulating petitions or have confirmed that they plan on running:
— In Ward 2, incumbent Democrat Eric Jakobsson says he will run for re-election.
— In Ward 3, Democrat Carol Ammons has been circulating petitions.
— In Ward 5, Dennis Roberts plans to run for re-election.
— In Ward 6, Michael P. Madigan has picked up petitions from the Urbana city clerk.
— In Ward 7, incumbent Democrat Diane Marlin says she will run for re-election.
Notably missing from the list is two-term incumbent Robert Lewis, who said on Thursday that he will not seek re-election because he believes in term limits.
"I've been there eight years," Lewis said. "That's two terms, and it's time for someone else to take the baton and run with it."