There will be three candidates on the ballot for mayor of Champaign in the April 4th consolidated election. This first report on the Champaign mayoral race, looks at Don Gerard, a candidate who’s held the office in the past.
“I think that I got a lot done,” says the 57-year-old Gerard, who defeated incumbent Gerald Schweighart to serve as mayor of Champaign from 2011 to 2015. During that time, the U of I facilities manager – since retired and working part-time for the local non-profit CU at Home — says he led efforts to set up the city’s electric aggregation program, and a summer youth employment program with the Unit 4 school district.
“Fully funded government, fully staffed police, fire, fully funded Public Works,” says Gerard. “When I left office, the coffers were full and there was no job openings. So I think that’s a pretty good way to leave the campsite.”
Gerard lost a reelection bid in 2015 to the current mayor, Deb Feinen. He says local Democrats asked him to run for the Champaign mayor’s office as part of a Democratic party drive to “challenge every seat”. Mayor Feinen is a Republican, although elected offices in Champaign city government are officially nonpartisan.
Gerard says if he’s elected mayor this time around, he’ll work to address homelessness and provide services for young people, which he says will also relieve the burden placed on police. Gerard also thinks the city’s bond rating is strong enough to finance faster work on flood control in the city’s north end.
He says that since his time in office, the city has neglected the north end, delaying needed flood control and other infrastructure projects.
“When you have sterling credit, I think that we can afford to do some bonding and get those projects going,” said Gerard. “Plus, you’re putting people to work. You’re creating jobs in addition to repairing those neighborhoods.”
In addition to Gerard, the April 4th ballot for Champaign mayor includes incumbent Deb Feinen, who is seeking a third term, and 2019 mayoral candidate Azark David Cobbs is making his second run for the office.