URBANA — After last month’s local election, five new members of the Urbana City Council were sworn in to office Monday, in the process creating one-party rule, as all seven seats are now held by Democrats.
Chris Evans, Jaya Kolisetty, Chaundra Bishop, Grace Wilken and James Quisenberry, all Democrats, took turns taking their oaths virtually for their four-year terms, while fellow Democrats Erik Sacks, Bill Brown, Dennis Roberts and Jared Miller and Republican and William Colbrook bid farewell.
“It’s time to let other younger voices be heard and to gain experience by serving on the council,” said Roberts, Ward 5, who stepped down after 16 years and an unsuccessful run this spring for mayor.
“This was a life changing experience to be able to be on the council,” said Jared Miller, who lost the Democratic primary to represent Ward 7. “I will never, ever look at government in the same way. I can never un-know the importance of local government.”
His primary opponent, new Ward 7 Alderman and former Champaign County Board member James Quisenberry, said he’s excited to be back in local government.
Wilken, who unseated Colbrook in Ward 6, said she hopes some of the federal COVID-19 relief funds can be used to address gun violence.
“I’m also looking forward to addressing housing, discrimination, emergency response and police accountability,” she said.
The newcomers will join incumbent Democrats Maryalice Wu and Shirese Hursey, who each ran unopposed in the general election.
“Tonight, we want to say thank you to five elected or appointed council members who collectively have provided over three decades of public service on the Urbana City Council,” said Diane Marlin, who was also sworn in for her second term as mayor.
And City Clerk Phyllis Clark took her oath after being elected to another term following her appointment last year.
On Tuesday, Champaign will swear in its new city council members: Davion Williams, Daniel Iniguez and Michael Foellmer.
They’re replacing Clarissa Fourman, Angie Brix and Greg Stock.
In other business, the Champaign Human Relations Commission met Monday to begin its hearing of alleged discrimination by the shuttered Rogue Barber Co.
Attorney Dave Wesner was appointed as the hearing officer, and the next meeting, when evidence will be considered, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., June 7.
Wesner told the commission that a woman alleged she was discriminated against on the basis of sex.
The woman, who Wesner said gets men’s-style haircuts, tried to make an appointment online with Rogue a month after getting a haircut there without incident, but was allegedly sent a message canceling the appointment because Rogue only does men’s cuts.
Owner Michael Long did not submit a response to the complaint to the city, Wesner said, and neither he nor a representative attended Monday’s hearing.
Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Bannon said the city has delivered the complaint to owner Michael Long and that he indicated he didn’t plan to attend the hearing.
Long has not yet responded to The News-Gazette’s request for comment.
This is the first discrimination case to reach a public hearing in Champaign since 2002, according to the city, which said nearly all are settled before that.
Rogue Barber Co. closed last summer after a string of protests in front of the shop at 12 E. Washington St., C.
Long opened Rogue in November 2019.
His business became the target of protests last summer after announcing in a since-deleted post on its Facebook page that it was a “private membership traditional barbershop (not unisex) not open to the general public” and would require prospective members to fill out an application that allegedly asked whether they are a member of any “violent extremist groups” such as antifa or Black Lives Matter.