On February 23rd, Champaign County voted in a primary election for the April general municipal elections. Turnout was incredibly low. This is disappointing, and we hope that more people vote in the April elections. As we’ve discussed before, municipal elections are in many ways even more important than federal ones; we’re selecting the people who make decisions about our daily lives, and have the capability to make things better for those who need it most.
We’re familiar with positions like mayor and city council, but did you know that there are several county- and city-level positions that are unfilled, or populated completely by one party? While some local elected positions are “non-partisan,” others aren’t. There are also a great deal of county-level board positions available, both partisan and not. These are open applications, not elected positions. Provided you meet the requirements of the position(s), anyone can apply.
If you’ve ever had to navigate one of our local government websites, you’ll know that they are often lacking in aesthetics and functionality. Information can be difficult to locate. There are some pages that haven’t been updated in more than a year. It’s often confusing to know where to go to find the information that you need, for instance, about Urbana Township positions. Even though it’s annoying and cumbersome to seek out this info, it’s critical that we have a sense of what is going on, and who our elected officials are. Do they represent their constituents, or are they in these positions because they have the time, money, and energy to run, and benefit from a lack of competition?
As we’ve said many, many times before: representation matters. It’s important to have officials who are a representative sample of the community. C-U and Champaign County are diverse in the true meaning of the word: there are a wide variety of people with all sorts of different life experiences living and working here. We need our elected officials to reflect that, as we are not a community made entirely of older white people. These elected officials are paid by taxes income — these are your taxes at work — and if it is important to you that the people you vote for do not support the Daily Caller or Breitbart, please take a few minutes to do some research.
Did you know that most cemeteries in this state have a board that oversees its maintenance? Admittedly, we didn’t know this, because we have had the luck of not having to think too hard about cemeteries. Perhaps it goes without saying that there are a lot of rules related to cemeteries, and how they are operated, though there are a lot of “historical” cemeteries that need maintenance and maybe some education about the plot.
There are a good amount of vacancies on cemetery boards in the area. Board members serve six year terms, which feels a little long and is perhaps one of the reasons people are less inclined to serve.
You can view all the vacancies here. If this is something that interests you, do apply.
Champaign County Mental Health Board
The Champaign County Mental Health Board is one of only a handful of county-level boards with an updated website. That may seem like a small or petty thing to notice, but this is how information is communicated now, and that they are organized enough to update the site to include upcoming meetings speaks volumes.
The work the board does is invaluable; just check out this list of organizations partially funded by the board.
There are two positions available. Applicants “should be representative of interested groups of the community such as local health departments; medical societies; local comprehensive health planning agencies; hospital boards; lay associations concerned with mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse; as well as the general public,” which is to say, pretty much anyone can apply. You can apply for those positions here.
Urbana Township positions
The first thing you might be asking yourself is, “What is Urbana Township, and how is that different from Cunningham Township and the city of Urbana?” That’s exactly what we asked ourselves, too, and we took to the internet to find answers.
To our surprise, there isn’t much information online about Urbana Township. There is a Google map, and a Wikipedia page, but there isn’t any other information about Township positions and responsibilities. We do know that there are eight Urbana Township positions, but that the contact information for most of the elected officials is a single AOL email account. Yes, AOL. Yes, only one.
All eight of those positions are on the ballot this April, and all eight races are being sought after by unopposed Republicans, seven of who are already in the positions. The exception is that Richard Thompsen is seeking the office of the Urbana Township Highway Commissioner, currently occupied by James Prather.
According to a 2016 News-Gazette article, the Urbana Township Highway Commissioner earns $55,646, which is a decent salary for overseeing the maintenance of a small portion of Urbana’s roads. It is an important job, but it’s not exactly clear what the other responsibilities are. Likewise, it’s unclear what the Urbana Township Trustees do (there are four; according to that same N-G article, they are paid $1,140). We suppose if you want to know more about these candidates, you could email that single AOL account.
The Editorial Board is Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer.