5 candidates make bid for at-large council seats

Urbana, Champaign County townships face decisions in May primary election.


Four Republicans and one Democratic candidate have filed petitions to seek two at-large seats on Urbana’s city council that will be up for grabs this fall.

Wednesday was the deadline for candidates to file for the May 7 primary election. Three races, including Champaign County municipal court judge and city council seats in the first and third ward, will be uncontested primaries. But several candidates are seeking two at-large seats for Urbana city council.

Republican candidates for the two at-large seats include Robert A. Thorpe and Douglas J. Hoffman. Both Thorpe and Hoffman are seeking to retain their current seats. They will face challenges in the Republican primary from Richard G. McCain and Tony Pena.

Hoffman, who was appointed to the seat in 2012, said it’s a good thing that there is so much interest in the position. He said there is a learning curve early on, but his year of experience will make him a better candidate.

“I think it’s great that more people are putting their name in the hat,” Hoffman said.

Other Republican candidates could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The two Republican candidates who earn the most votes in the primary will move on to the general election in the fall, said Kathy Meyer, director of the Champaign County Board of Elections.

Richard C. Kerns was the only candidate who had filed as a Democrat for an at-large seat by Wednesday afternoon. Kerns, a lifelong Urbana resident, has been active in the Democratic party and worked at the former Fox River Paper Company for 43 years before retiring. He has previously run as a candidate for the city’s third ward and as a candidate for Champaign County commissioner in previous elections, but was not successful. Kerns would run uncontested in the spring Democratic primary.

Eugene Fields Jr. is running uncontested as a Republican candidate to retain his seat as a council member in the city’s first ward. Dwight Paul is running uncontested as a Republican to retain his seat as a councilman in the third ward.

Gil Weithman, who now serves as law director for the city, will run unopposed as a candidate for Champaign County Municipal Court judge. No Democratic candidates had filed petitions to run for the seat by Wednesday afternoon.

Residents in Jackson and Union Twps. will also decide whether to approve levies this spring.

In Jackson Twp., residents will be asked to approve a five-year, 1-mill replacement and increase for providing ambulance service. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $30 a year. Residents will also decide whether to approve a five-year, 1.5-mill replacement and increase for a fire levy.

The township had tried unsuccessfully to pass both levies last fall, said David Peirson, fiscal officer for the township. If the levies fail again this year, Peirson said the township will not have enough revenue to pay for fire and ambulance service by next year.

“They won’t have any coverage,” Peirson said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Voters in Union Twp. will decide whether to approve a five-year replacement of 1.5 mills, plus an increase of 2.5 mills, to help cover the increasing costs for fire protection. The 4-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $120 a year. Voters also rejected that levy in the fall.


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