GP Young

Champaign County Board member Charles Young, a retired educator, poses for a photo Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at the University of Illinois Library in Urbana.

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Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, CHARLES YOUNG of Champaign chats with staff writer Paul Wood about his years at the University of Illinois and his current role on the Champaign County Board. He’s practicing what he preached: His 2016 doctoral thesis was on “The thoughts of African American Christian religious leaders and university professors on seeking public office.”

Tell us about growing up and family.

I’ve lived in Champaign-Urbana all of my life and attended Urbana schools, Parkland College and the University of Illinois. I’ve been married for 32 years to my high school sweetheart, Alissia Young. We have four adult children, with three living in different states and my oldest son and his family still living here. My wife and I are very proud of all four of our children because they doing pretty good with their lives. I am also a very proud grandfather of one 4-year-old granddaughter, who is spoiled rotten, and the pride and joy of my life.

Tell us about serving on the county board.

I represent District 6. I’m the Policy, Personnel and Appointment chairperson and am the Democratic caucus vice chairperson as well. I’ve been on the board since 2018 and plan on running again in 2020 for a four-year term.

You’ve been an outspoken figure.

“I didn’t choose politics, politics chose me.” Some may argue and say that I am a controversial figure because I am always thinking outside the box of politics. With our county issues, I know there are requirements to meet when it comes to passing certain resolutions that pertain to the physical needs and bricks and mortars of our infrastructure. I have been quite adamant and vocal about investing more time, money and energy into human capital and social service/people programs.

What else are you doing right now?

Besides teaching a social-justice class, Diversity and Social Justice, I’ve substitute taught for the Champaign school district since retiring from the UI in 2017 with 31 years of service. While on the campus, I worked in the maintenance area, and also educated students once I went back for my Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies.

How about hobbies?

I really enjoy exercising, reading, writing, thinking things out thoroughly and researching everything I can get my hands on. By nature, I am an educator, and I strongly promote continuing education/professional development trainings in any capacity that I am part of.

Are you religious?

I’m more spiritual than anything. I am a deacon at my church and enjoy attending my services. I am a very strong man of faith and believe that faith and more love is the real answer to many of our world problems, and locally, too.

Do you have a favorite team?

I am a huge Cardinals fan, and we almost made it to the World Series this year, but next year, watch out. I predict we will be there. I love everything about Illini sports, especially being a fighting Illini fan and alum. I’m also a Bears, New England Patriots and Chicago Bulls fan, too.

What’s the happiest memory of your life?

When I married my high school sweetheart and the birth of all four of my children.


Paul Wood is a reporter at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@pvawood).