29 File Petitions for 22 Seats in Champaign County Board Primary

December 06, 2011

In the upcoming March primary, Champaign County voters will be selecting candidates to run for seats on a county board that is smaller.

The Champaign County Board is slated to slim down from 27-to-22 members next December. The current arrangement ... of nine county board districts with three members each ... will change to eleven districts of two members each. Urbana Democrat Brendan McGinty is a longtime backer of the idea. He said a smaller county board with fewer members per district will be more accountable to voters.

"I want engaged members," McGinty said. "My hope is, a smaller board will by nature be more engaged, because it has to be more accountable. Two members per districts, rather than three, there's frankly no hiding."

But McGinty will not be on the smaller county board. He's one of 10 incumbents who have decided not to seek re-election. Others include current county board chairman Pius Weibel, and longtime members Steve Moser and Tom Betz. Only 17 incumbents filed ballot petitions by Monday's deadline, to run for Champaign County Board slots in the March primary. They were joined by 12 newcomers, including Republican Jim McGuire, a recent candidate for Champaign City Council. McQuire said working together to fix problems is a higher priority for him than winning back the majority that Republicans lost on the county board a decade ago.

"I hope that either way it goes, that when we get together and we do have make decisions for county government, that we work together," McGuire said. "And I think we can. We've got some good people on both sides; that we work together to move things forward for the community."

McGuire said he thinks finances at the county nursing home and the future of the aging county jail in downtown Urbana will be two of the major issues facing him, if he's elected to the Champaign County Board.

Story source: WILL