Municipal elections are happening April 2nd, and there are a variety of local positions up for grabs. We came up with some questions for candidates in several of these races, and will be publishing their answers over the course of the next couple of weeks as they respond. Smile Politely doesn’t generally endorse local candidates, and these interviews are not endorsements. Hopefully, they will provide you readers with some insight into the importance of local races, and help you develop a sense of which candidates share your values. We’ve reached out to those running for Champaign and Urbana school boards and park districts, Champaign City Council, Mayor of Champaign, and Parkland Board of Trustees.

Champaign residents have the opportunity to elect one person to the Champaign Park District Board of Commissioners, a group of five elected officials that handle the business affairs of the park district. Commissioners serve for six year terms. 

DeShawn Williams is a bank manager running for the board.

Smile Politely: Why are you seeking this position? What do you feel you have to offer that the other candidate does not, or that the board is currently lacking?

DeShawn Williams: As many have grown to know, I have a young family that I am raising in the wonderful City of Champaign. Decisions made within the park board directly affects the growth of my four year old son and the neighborhoods he will continue to be raised in. I want to be a part of those decisions to ensure the best outcome for families like mine and beyond.

SP: When considering the budget for the park district, what are your top three spending priorities?


  • Ensuring that there is continued focus on the north side of town’s facilities.
  • Providing an affordable child care center on the north side equivalent to that in other areas of Champaign.
  • Expanding community involvement with the likes of 40 North and such programs to bring local entertainment to the communities outside of the major facilities.  I’ve said before a Saturday Night even would be an amazing follow up to “Friday Night” live, where we’ve seen the community come together in great numbers.

SP: What do you think the CPD is doing well in terms of making its’ programming and facilities accessible and inclusive for all residents: racially, socioeconomically, physically. What can be improved upon?

Williams: The CPD has done an amazing job in regards to making programming and facilities accessible and inclusive for all residents. Personally I have been witness to this from the residents side of the spectrum. The CPD continuously seek advice and input from those involved in the different programs within the community, which I feel is a key factor in achieving success moving forward. Rather it’s the focus I’ve seen given to special needs individuals or the elderly, there is a desire to be all things to all people. I feel as though the continuation in seeking input from the people will be key in the success and development moving forward, which I look forward to and hope to be a part of.

SP: What is your favorite Champaign park and why?

Williams: Hessel Park has a special place in my heart.  Beside it being one of the larger more diverse parks within the community, it is also a destination that my wife and I often went to when began dating seven years ago.