News Local/State

‘I Am Urbana’: Evelyn Burnett Underwood Running For Mayor

Urbana mayoral candidate Evelyn Burnett Underwood.

Rev. Evelyn Burnett Underwood, candidate for Urbana mayor, stands in the New Free Will Baptist Chuch in Champaign, where she is a minister along with her husband, Rev. King James Underwood. Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

Evelyn Burnett Underwood has been attending Urbana City Council meetings for years. But now, she’d like to do so as the city’s mayor.

Underwood is one of three candidates ---- along with Ald. Diane Marlin and incumbent Laurel Prussing --- seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor in Urbana. The winner of the Tuesday, Feb. 28 primary will face Republican Rex Bradfield in the April 4th municipal election.

Underwood has spent most of her life in Urbana, and sums up her experience in the city as “I am Urbana” in her stump speech. In the 1960s, she was elected as Urbana’s first African-American school board member, serving in that office for a total of 12 years. She is also a Free Will Baptist minister, and a retired school counselor, with doctoral degrees in education and law. She’s been an officer in local groups including the Champaign County NAACP and the Ministerial Alliance of Champaign-Urbana & Vicinity.

Underwood spoke with Illinois Public Media’s Jim Meadows at Champaign’s New Free Will Baptist Church, where Underwood is a minister, along with her husband, Rev. King James Underwood.

In this web extra, Underwood discusses her ideas for addressing a recent increase in crime in southeast Urbana.