There are three contested races for Champaign City Council this time around, all for district seats. Voters in Districts 1, 3, and 4 will have a choice to make on their ballot, and those elected will serve a four year term. Turn out for these local elections is typically embarassingly low, but city council members make a lot of decisions that affect our day to day lives and shape the type of community we live in. Champaign City Council positions are non-partisan, though you can generally ascertain political leanings by doing a little scrolling and clicking. Here's a quick rundown of the contested races. You can find full questionnaires at Champaign County Voters Alliance (CCVA). 

District 1

Current council member Clarissa Fourman is facing two challengers, Azark Cobbs and Davion Williams. District 1 covers northeast Champaign. Cobbs previously challenged Deb Feinen in the 2019 mayoral race, and doesn't seem to be actively campaigning.  

Fourman and Williams both talk about economic investment in North Champaign, and being a voice for a portion of the community that is often denied a seat at the table. From the CCVA site: 

Fourman: "I have learned to be an independent voice amongst a sea of politicians. I just want to continue to be at the table to provide a real-life voice on the policies the city sets and to make sure we as a city are HELPING PEOPLE. From experience I know how important it is to effectively get your colleagues to listen to your voice and implement those things, even if there is no political will, because I have done it successfully for 6 years. There is no such thing as “no”, it just means we have to find another way to get it done."

Williams: The importance of a Champaign City Council member to residents is to be an effective representative for constituents. What does this look like? To be an effective representative one must be responsive and sensitive to the needs of whom they serve. Furthermore, a council person should represent the voice/or be the voice of the citizen, from the majority to the minority of the district.

District 3
 
There are two candidates on the ballot for voters in District 3, and one candidate running as a write-in. This race began in a contentious sort of way, with a challenge to Justin Hendrix's petition, which ultimately led to his exclusion from the ballot. Hendrix filed as a write-in candidate, joining Matthew Sullard and Danny Iniguez in the race for the seat being vacated by current council member Angie Brix. District 3 represents northwest Champaign.
 
Iniguez is a business owner supported by Mayor Feinen, Sullard is an attorney and progressive candidate backed by the Champaign County Democrats, and Hendrix is an activist and community organizer doing a grassroots sort of campaign. From the CCVA site:
 
Iniguez: More than anything, I want to bring civility to my interactions on Council. The politics of the last few years have taken their toll on people’s emotions. I want us to be able to have conversations with our neighbors, difficult as those conversations may be, in a way where we respectfully listen and work together to uplift our community. Regardless of background and demographic, we all have a vested interest seeing Champaign be successful and make improvements where necessary.
Sullard: Right now our community is facing two pandemics – COVID-19 and systemic racism. These must be the top priorities for anyone elected to represent the community. The City can educate members of the community on the benefits of the vaccine and help facilitate accessibility, particularly to neighborhoods hit hardest with tragedy. The City must also support its local businesses that suffered greatly due to the precautions the pandemic forced upon us. Every community experiences some level of systemic racism, and Champaign is no different. The City Council must take the lead on fighting against it, by pursuing equitable policies and providing local neighborhood services, including mental health services. As we work toward establishing a new normal, we need to make sure we don’t return to practices of the past that neglected so many in our community.
Hendrix: I have been educating, advocating, and cultivating the communities before making the decision to enter into the political area. I have honest care, concern, and continuous compassion for my District 3 family, neighboring communities, and city of Champaign-Urbana as a whole. The work that I have done shows that my performance and potential are beyond a political move, but a genuine love for a “people’s first approach” as it is the people, who we must put first before policy.
District 4
 
Current council member Greg Stock is being challenged by Michael Foellmer to represent District 4, which covers a portion of central Champaign. Foellmer has previously run for Champaign Unit 4 School Board, and is a progressive challenger to the established incumbent. From the CCVA site:
 
Foellmer: With a strong and vibrant community, filled with people from every corner of the world, I recognize the importance of supporting local businesses, new building developments, and historic housing districts. As one of the fastest growing cities in Illinois, it is our responsibility to remain committed to planning for a future that includes and recognizes our neighbors of color. I will listen to the needs of our neighborhoods and represent them with the highest integrity and dedication to architectural considerations and environmental impact.
Stock: I think that our biggest priority and challenge right now is going to be getting back to normal, what ever that “normal” looks like. From a city perspective, that’s going to mean continuing to work with local businesses to stay viable while staying safe. It’s also important that the city get back on solid financial footing so we can afford to maintain and provide quality city services that we have all grown to rely on and appreciate. We need to continue to create opportunities to improve the quality of life for all our citizens that make people want to be in Champaign.

Top photo by Anna Longworth.