News Local/State

Underwood Is Third To Announce Candidacy For Urbana Mayor


There are now three candidates vying to win election as Mayor of Urbana next spring --- all Democrats, and all women.

The Reverend Evelyn Burnett Underwood is the latest to make her candidacy official, with an announcement on Wednesday.

Underwood says she’s spent most of her life in Urbana, graduating from Urbana High School in the same class as film critic Roger Ebert. The former University of Illinois employee made an unsuccessful run for Champaign County Circuit Clerk four years ago. And Underwood served four terms on the Urbana School Board, starting in 1968.

“I was the first African-American ever elected to the Board of Education in the history of Urbana,” said Underwood. “But I work for everybody. I’m going to bring everybody together. We need to bring our whole city together.”

Underwood says she wants to establish a police-community partnership in Urbana to improve relations between law enforcement and the African-American community. She also supports using tax revenue from gambling be used for a local Gambling Awareness program and community college scholarships. She says she would be more inclusive then her Democratic rivals.

“I’m a Democrat, don’t get me wrong,” said Underwood. “But I want to work with everybody. I want to work with business people. I want to work with psychologists, social workers, the YWCA, people at the University of Illinois. We need to get all kinds of people advising us on different issues to get some things done in this community.”

Underwood is a pastor -- along with her husband, the Rev. King James Underwood -- at the New Free Will Baptist Church in Champaign. She says the two of them have been attending Urbana City Council meeting regularly for the past four years.

Underwood plans to run in the February 28th Democratic primary against current Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and Alderwoman Diane Marlin. The deadline for submitting petition signatures for the primary race is Monday, November 28. The winner of the primary will run in the April 4, 2017, consolidated election, but so far, no Republican or other candidates for Urbana mayor have announced plans to run.