Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with Champaign Mayor Don Gerard. Getting Personal appears first in print, on Sundays. In the Dec. 11 newspaper, we'll have a chat with musician Morgan Powell.
Profession: Explain in one sentence what it is you do.
My professional life requires I serve both civilly and publicly.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
I schedule 7:30 a.m. meetings pretty regularly. My son recently made the freshman basketball team, so 5:45 a.m. practices find me hitting "snooze" for the first time a touch-bit earlier a couple of days of the week.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
I had a corn dog with a third-grade class at Stratton Elementary School.
Best high school memory?
Oh, gosh, I don't know. Maybe realizing being the editor of the school newspaper's sports section bought me a lot of protection from the linebackers upon whom I lavished praise for their skill? The five minutes or so when I thought Julie Greenberg actually might be interested in me? The time our intramural basketball team went undefeated and beat the teachers/coaches? I guess as my kids are now at Champaign Central some more might come back to me when I am back in the hallways.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
I have had so many. I remember one pair, in particular, actually. They were Born casual Oxfords ... black, round toes and a red strip on the side. My brother asked me if they came with a free big, red clown nose.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
Quality time with one or both of my kids. Teenagers are tough, but when I get to watch a ball game with my son or go shopping or do a project with my daughter it is all worth it.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?
I read 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' as a kid and again a couple of times to my children when they were in preschool. I have an old, hardbound copy that is always on my main bookshelf.
Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?
Not much, really, as I feel like I am doing it.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
One of the smartest things I ever did was take the suggestion to go the Humane Society and check out the puppy I wound up adopting. Ivy is simply a wonderful, wonderful mutt, and I can't imagine the past seven years without her.
Have you discovered as you matured that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?
I guess I notice my public persona is similar to that of both of my parents. My father was a very friendly and gregarious guy, and my mother is still one of the most social people I have ever met.
What would you order for your last meal?
Oh, it would not really matter as long as I had family and friends around.
What can you not live without?
Family, friends, coffee, sausage gravy.
Who do you have on your iPod?
I technically don't have an iPod; however, to avoid the cliched 'you whippersnappers and your inter-tube webs' routine, I will say: Tommy Womack, the English Beat, the Psychedelic Furs, Harry Nilsson, the Hold Steady, Sam Cooke, Jonathan Coulton, Menthol, Rosanne Cash, Prince, Blue Rodeo, Clem Snide, Soul Asylum, Alison Krauss, the Bay City Rollers, Public Enemy, the Records, the Bottle Rockets, Centro-Matic, the Jackson 5, Archers of Loaf ...
What's the happiest memory of your life?
Holding my kids when they were babies.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
Alec Baldwin, Erin Whitehead and Amy Armstrong.
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Do your best — you have invested your life in making good friends and those who are true will always support you.
What's your best piece of advice?
Do your best. Life is not as difficult as we make it, and if we all work to treat others as we would wish to be treated, consider and protect the least of our brethren and apply what we learned in kindergarten, we will have a much better world.
What was your first job, and how much did you make an hour?
I was a dishwasher at Snack's Fifth Avenue on Neil Street commanding the princely sum of $3.35 an hour.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
I went through some very difficult times, and there were people who supported me and ensured my children had the opportunity to have a happy and productive childhood. I wanted the opportunity to pay that back and try to help others afford the same opportunities, so I committed my life to public service.
Do you have a bad habit? What is it?
I talk too much and say 'uh' and 'um' a lot.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
Still working on that; however, I think the times I do best are when I go in knowing all I can do is my best and stay focused on what needs to be accomplished.