Danville voters to have four choices for mayor in April

via The News-Gazette

A businessman, an alderman, a city employee and the acting mayor round out the lineup of candidates vying to be the next full-time mayor of Danville.

No unexpected candidates for the city’s top job emerged Monday, the last day to file to run for April’s municipal election, which will see Danville voters weigh in on mayor, city treasurer and seven of the 14 seats on the city council.

In the mayoral race, joining acting Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and city employee Donald Crews Jr. — who both filed last week — are longtime Alderman Steve Nichols and local businessman and former Danville alderman and Vermilion County Board Chairman Jim McMahon, who both filed Monday morning.

Frank Wright, another local businessman, had said he was considering a run but had not filed just before Monday’s deadline, according to Sandy Delhaye, executive director of the Danville Election Commission.

Had a fifth candidate filed by the deadline, it would have triggered a February primary, she said. Instead, all four candidates for mayor will be on the ballot in April.

For the first time in 16 years, one person who won’t be on the ballot is former Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who accepted the position of village administrator in Rantoul in October. Williams was chosen by his fellow aldermen to fill out the remainder of Eisenhauer’s term.

Williams, along with Crews, an inspector in the city’s code-enforcement department, were the first to file for mayor on Nov. 19.

Williams, a Danville native, has said that being mayor of the city has been a dream of his since high school. He tried to fulfill that dream eight years ago, but Eisenhauer prevailed, winning his third term.

On the newly revamped mayor’s page on the city’s website, Williams recently posted an introduction to residents, summarizing his education and professional experience. He’s now juggling his mayoral responsibilities with his job as executive director of Project Success.

“I have high expectations of myself and others and am taking this time to apply what I have learned throughout my formal education and career to help Danville be a city where people love to live, work, play, and visit!” he said in the post.

Nichols, a Ward 6 alderman since 1993, and McMahon, who owns Illini Skateland with his wife, Sharon, a Ward 4 alderwoman, both released separate statements Monday about their desire to lead the city.

“As other candidates have said, I, too, have wanted to be mayor since I was a little boy, but what I want isn’t important,” said Nichols, a 64-year-old Danville native and longtime regional manager with Steak ‘n Shake who now runs one of the Danville restaurants. “I believe I am the best candidate to address the challenges and opportunities facing Danville today. Together, we will succeed and grow a community we are proud to pass on to our children and grandchildren.”

And McMahon, who lost to Eisenhauer in two prior mayoral bids, said his solid business experience and varied government service — former alderman, Danville Township trustee and Vermilion County Board member, including six years as chairman — have prepared him to tackle the city’s serious issues like pensions, debt load, crime and neighborhood blight.

“It will take someone strong and experienced to work with the department heads and the city council to develop a proper plan to address these problems,” he said, adding that jobs are important to the city’s economy and for its growth.

Crews, a former Champaign County probation officer who’s been a city inspector for nearly three years, said he’s not a politician but a regular citizen who interacts daily with residents in his current job and has a good grasp of what needs to be changed.

He said he would allow residents to play a role in the city’s budget process rather than have all the financial planning done by a limited set of city officials.

“I’m here to make changes, to make the city better for my family and future families,” he said.

In other filings Monday, incumbent Treasurer Stephanie Wilson was the only one who filed for that office. And all seven incumbents for aldermen filed for re-election, along with five challengers. They are:

— Ward 1: Incumbent Brenda Brown and challenger Trina Perkins.

— Ward 2: Incumbent Rick Strebing and challenger Jerry Hawker.

— Ward 3: Incumbent Sharon Pickering and challenger Damara Joyner.

— Ward 4: Incumbent Michael O’Kane.

— Ward 5: Incumbent Tom Stone.

— Ward 6: Incumbent Jon Cooper and challenger Aaron Troglia.

— Ward 7: Incumbent Lloyd Randle and challenger Bob Iverson.

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