Republicans Doug Hoffman and Tony Pena will move forward to the fall general election after pulling ahead in a crowded primary race for two at-large city council seats.
Both candidates will move on to face Richard C. Kerns, the lone Democrat on the ballot, in November, according to final, unofficial results from the Champaign County Board of elections. Hoffman and Pena defeated Richard C. McCain, a former Urbana city employee, and Robert A. Thorpe, an incumbent who was seeking to retain his seat on city council.
Hoffman credited his involvement in the community for helping him win the primary and said he feels it’s his responsibility to represent the needs of all city residents, not just those who voted for him Tuesday.
“At the end of the day, you need to be out in the community,” Hoffman said.
Pena, a youth and children’s pastor at the River of Life Christian Center in Urbana, was running for election for the first time.
“I’m flabbergasted now because that’s the first time I’ve ever even run for office,” Pena said.
Like Hoffman, Pena also said he believes his involvement in the church and community helped him move ahead to the fall. Pena said he’s been involved in the church for more than 20 years in all but has been working there full-time for more than a decade.
“This community has treated my family well since I was little,” Pena said.
Because two seats were open, the two Republicans receiving the most votes move to the general election in November against Kerns, who was unopposed in the primary.
Candidates said several issues were important to the election, including the need for the city to upgrade and maintain its infrastructure, while making sure rates for residents remain affordable. Among other issues, the city is considering plans to build a new water treatment facility, which city officials have said is necessary because the current facility is aging and nearing its capacity.
This year’s fall election will determine who will sit on the eight-member city council next year. The council is responsible for drafting legislation and bringing concerns from residents to the city’s administration.
Gil Weithman, a Republican, ran unopposed in the race for Champaign County Municipal Court Judge. In the city council’s first ward, Eugene Fields, Jr. also faced no competition. Dwight Paul, also a Republican, ran unopposed for a seat in the city council’s third ward.