The Champaign County Board of Elections have posted the unofficial election results Tuesday evening. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Urbana 4th ward gets new rep., at-large incumbent keeps seat

Urbana voters were asked to choose between eight candidates competing to fill three seats on the city council.

The Champaign County Board of Elections have posted the final, but unofficial election results Tuesday evening.

Fourth Ward

Republican challenger Richard Ebert defeated incumbent Everett Ray Piper, a Democrat, for the fourth ward seat with roughly 63 percent of the vote.

Ebert, who serves as chair for the City of Urbana Planning Commission, previously stated that he wants to usher in economic development by supporting the city’s economic development manager and the Champaign Economic Partnership either financially or helping those entities as they research investment opportunities.

He said some of the biggest challenges facing the city include the availability of affordable housing and wants to help in efforts to update and replace aging and outdated infrastructure in the city.

Piper, a Navistar retiree and former parking enforcement officer for the Urbana Police Department, said he felt that the fourth ward has been neglected for sometime and his main goal is to direct the city’s attention to problems such as a lack of sidewalks and curb gutters.

He said he wants to see city spending redirected in order to better address the city’s infrastructural needs, which includes building up the foundations of the fourth ward.

At-Large

Incumbent Patrick Thackery defeated Independent Cassandra Cress, a Urbana school teacher, with roughly 55 percent of the vote.

Thackery is entering his sixth year serving on city council. He said despite working with a lean operating budget, the city has done a good job directing funds to projects that seek to usher development in downtown Urbana as well as improve the city’s aging infrastructure.

He previously said that he was pursuing another term to see through several projects that the city is currently working on. That includes a plan to develop the long-vacated Douglas Hotel into senior living, which has been in the works for five years.

Cress, who was running for her first political office, joined two other independents running for city government under the platform of “Urbana Wins.” She said she wants to address what she sees as growing problems facing the city, which includes a growing poverty rate and a declining population.

She said in order to address some of those problems, city leaders need to make it easier for local businesses to invest in the city. That includes simplifying the process by taking a look at preexisting zoning laws.

Cress previously stated that her other goals included looking at ways to encourage employers to increase wages through incentives and setting up a Community Center for youth in the city.

At-Large (open seat)

Four candidates were running to fill a vacant at large council seat. The candidates included two Republicans, a Democrat and an Independent.

Republican Mary Ann Collier won that seat with roughly 30 percent of the vote.

Collier, who has worked at the Champaign Health District for 15 years, said she feels the city and county are growing and feels that the Douglas Hotel project will offer more housing opportunities and improve the downtown area.

She said by attracting more businesses and capitalizing on institutions such as Urbana University, the city will be able to attract more people.

Al Evans, another Republican, said he supported the project to revamp the roundabout in downtown. He said the city should direct its efforts on working with companies to determine what training is needed to fill jobs.

Evans said, if elected, he would have worked with the city’s police and fire departments to see how they can maximize services to citizens in the confines of the preexisting budget.

Independent Teresa Beverly, a first time candidate, was part of the “Urbana Wins” team along with two other city independents. She previously stated that the city needs leadership that is actively involved in going after grants, cutting red tape and regulations for businesses.

Beverly said the city also needs to develop a stronger relationship with the city’s school district, as 53 percent of those students are classified as economically disadvantaged, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Democrat Richard Kerns said he wanted to focus on ushering investment into the west end of the city. He felt that area has been neglected by city leaders as they work to redevelop other areas of Urbana.

Kerns said he has been involved in politics for decades and this was his third time running for council. He said, if elected, his efforts would be geared towards fiscal accountability. He said that means making sure that city departments are operating within the budget and that the city is using allocations responsibly.

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