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Urbana Primary Election, February 23, 2021

This important primary includes the offices of City of Urbana Mayor, City Clerk, and Aldermen in Wards 1, 5, and 7.  SUNA is essentially Ward 7.

Because no Republican candidates are running, the primary election determines the final winners. All of these positions include more than one candidate.  Registered and eligible voters can vote in the Urbana primary.  

Voting options are:
  • Vote by mail by requesting a mail ballot online at
  • Vote early in person starting January 14, 2021 at the Brookens Center
  • Vote in person on election day February 23, 2021
Information on the candidates' qualifications and positions on city issues can be found at Vote Champaign 2021 Urbana Primary Candidate Information

Videos for the League of Women Voters candidate forums for Champaign County can be found at Candidate Forums.

Following are additional questions/answers for the Ward 7 Alderman candidates:

1.  What is your mission statement for wanting to represent Ward 7 as alderman and how do you envision implementing it? How does this mission fit in with your role as a member of the City Council as a whole? How will you prioritize the needs of individual neighbors with that of the Ward and the City?

James Quisenberry
The role of a council member is to engage with their constituents to hear their concerns and needs and then participate in the governance of the whole city through their role on council.  In the best of circumstances, a council member will recognize and follow a path that finds the common needs in the city and choices that serves the whole or as much of the whole that is possible.  Because the needs of individual residents of a ward can be varied, it is important to have a council member who has broad experience and good judgment because sometimes what is best for the whole city or for the long term, might not fit the immediate interests of a large number of residents.  This is why I feel the skills of engagement, empathy, and listening are important for roles in local government and why I value them so highly.

Jared Miller
My mission is to provide the residents of Ward 7 with capable leadership and bold legislative efforts that ensure equity in the administration of City resources, create safe neighborhoods, and build economic opportunities for the Philo Road Business district. These goals can be achieved through improvements to existing ordinances, drafting supportive resolutions highlighting the importance of the economic investment in SE Urbana, building and strengthening interpersonal relationships with groups/local efforts to support our at-risk neighbors, and creating/passing new legislation that prioritizes SE Urbana residents, entrepreneurs, and organizations in the administration of City/Township resources such as grants, economic development resources, and direct assistance to residents in need. I believe that Councilmembers have a duty to work diligently as legislators in leading the creation of directives (resolutions) and direct action (ordinances) rather than merely relying on City leadership to take up the causes we most believe in through email requests and comments at Council meetings. In my role on Council, I will continue my work in leading these efforts, with much of my attention given to SE Urbana issues. I prioritize taking time to make myself available to talk to all of our neighbors, no matter their views, and give as much consideration as possible to see things from their point of view and understand where they are coming from. I use those interactions to inform and consider my own biases, perspectives, and opinions about any issue before deciding how I will approach my response to a given issue.

 2.  Ward 7 is really two different micro-societies: one, middle income groups living in single family homes, the other a lower socio-economic population living in multiple-unit apartments.  How do you plan to communicate with the diverse constituents in Ward 7 and respond to their issues?

Jared Miller
For those who may not know me, I am certainly someone who falls into the former category of micro-society. Admittedly, I use forms of communication that this group typically relies on such as email and recently video-conferencing to do the vast majority of my communicating with our neighbors. I have my personal cell number listed as my contact number on the City website which has also allowed me to communicate via text and phone call with many residents who do not use or have access to more complex forms of technologically dependent communication. I have developed a small number of relationships through interactions and introductions made at community events within the Silverwood neighborhood and had mixed results in encouraging engagement with those neighbors so that they might be able to work with me on issues in their life which the City may be able to help. Going forward, I believe that offering educational meetings held at different accessible community locations, such as the Salt & Light classrooms, is necessary to educate neighbors who might otherwise not understand how they can utilize their Council member to help focus City resources on resolving issues in their personal lives/community. I believe there is a substantive disconnect and it will take direct personal interactions to create space and access for those residents to get involved and build trust with the City.

James Quisenberry
I would say that Ward 7 has a spectrum of groups, not just two, with as much complexity as any other ward in Urbana.  I would approach it very much the same way I live my life in Urbana, by continuing to be a part of many groups and building and expanding my existing connections to other groups in the community.  For example in the Silverwood neighborhood I am part of Urbana Rotary and St. Matthew Lutheran Church, both of which are active in supporting the neighborhood.  I'm also connected with individuals and organizations such as the Urbana Park District who have been great partners in that support.  As a member of city council, I will be able to connect city programs and services with those efforts and engage with the residents on what is needed to in that part of our community.

 3.  Like most cities in the US, Urbana is facing serious financial issues. What kind of unpleasant decisions will you have to make in the next several years as council member?

James Quisenberry
Any time a city has to cut needed or useful services for its residents it is unpleasant.  What will be even more unpleasant, is if the financial picture requires the additional loss of staff, beyond what has been lost through attrition.  I hope the city doesn't get to a circumstance that would require furloughs or layoffs, because they come during a time where personal impact is already significant.  Because of the fiscal responsibility over the last several years, the city has been able to weather the storm so far.  I think now is the time to look around the corner of the pandemic and consider how we can position the city to be ready for the opportunities that may come with that change.  In either case, the city needs to have a strong strategic view that includes its values and goals to make decisions about priorities, whether it be about investment or cuts.

Jared Miller
While one hopes to never have to make tough decisions when it comes to the financial health of the City I have had to do just that on numerous occasions. I have supported each of the Mayor’s budgets including all voluntarily-initiated reduction programs affecting staff levels, tightening of expenditures on City services/resources, and supporting the City taking tough positions in union contract negotiation. I am ready to continue supporting these actions whenever it is demonstrated they are needed to ensure the financial security of the City. I do hope that the future will be more fruitful for the City and we will not face as many of these decisions in the coming years.

 4.  How will you help to make Ward 7 (and all of Urbana) safe and affordable for long-term renters, and deal with problem landlords? In particular, how have/will you become involved with the safety and quality of life issues in the Silverwood neighborhood?

Jared Miller
Currently, State statute prevents the City of Urbana (or any municipality) from engaging in rent control legislation due to a 1997 law (50 ILCS 825/Rent Control Preemption Act). I have and will continue to push on our State elected officials that this needs to be a priority in the next legislative session and action is long overdue. I have recently been engaging with members of the SUNA steering committee working through an understanding of where the current Aggravated Public Nuisance Ordinance falls short in holding our problem landlords accountable. If the teeth available to City as permitted by the ordinance are not sharp enough to incur meaningful changes in the conditions in these buildings we will push to update the ordinance so that it does. The Silverwood neighborhood is in dire need of a multi-faceted approach to resolving it’s ongoing issues. This includes policy reforms in policing that build trust with the UPD and ensures residents feel comfortable calling and interacting with the UPD in order to solve crimes and prevent crime in the neighborhood. It involves direct financial investment in the improvement of locally owned businesses and public infrastructures such as sidewalks and streetlights. It means financial support for residents experiencing hardship through programs and connections made through the Township. Residents, additionally, need to be provided resources for higher education opportunities, skills/trade programs, and job fairs. These are just a few of the ideas I will continue to advocate for should I be elected to a second term.

James Quisenberry
Safe and affordable housing is key to improving the circumstances of our neighbors.  This means we should support and encourage landlords who keep their properties in proper working order and holding the negligent or absentee landlords accountable.  It takes far too long to address properties with safety issues and assess penalties on those responsible.  This is a key area of emphasis for the Silverwood neighborhood and something I will champion if I am on council.  Infrastructure and other concerns are important parts of the whole package of investing in that part of our community.

 5.  The City of Champaign has revised its Human Rights Ordinance to allow for time elapsed since conviction for some crimes to be a determining factor in accepting a convicted felon as a tenant. The City of Urbana forbids denying rental property based upon a person's felony conviction record.  Should Urbana consider revising its ordinance to be more consistent with Champaign?

James Quisenberry
I would not be supportive of being consistent with Champaign.  I would instead put pressure on Champaign to fully end their discriminatory practices.  Affordable, safe housing is an essential part of a successful return to the community for persons with a felony conviction.  Having access to housing be limited based on time since a conviction is an additional "sentence" which is not the responsibility of community housing ordinances to enforce.

Jared Miller
I do not believe that the City of Urbana should update it’s Human Rights Ordinance to reflect the extra measures allowed in the City of Champaign’s HRO. Housing instability and chronic houselessness are two highly-influential factors in recidivism. The chances of an individual resorting to continued criminal behavior are that much higher when released from incarceration if the individual is unable to find housing. Houselessness drives desperation. Being houseless exacerbates the difficulties in finding employment or a stable community. With that perfect storm, it is no wonder that individuals may feel as though they have been abandoned by their community and resort to decisions that they may not otherwise feel they need to make. Giving individuals that first chance for stability upon re-entering a community is a vital tool in our efforts to provide equitable opportunities to all in our community.