URBANA — Four candidates are running for mayor. Three Democrats and one Republican want the office. Two of them have fought for it before, and the other two are putting themselves out there for the first time.
Incumbent Mayor Laurel Prussing is running for her fourth term. She says more than a decade in the office has made her a professional problem-solver.
“I enjoy solving problems,” says Prussing, “and I think the person who is to be the mayor is willing to take on tough issues.”
The accomplishments she’s most proud of are taking Carle to court for property taxes, not laying off city employees during the recession and saving money on their health insurance. Going forward, she says she’s concerned about the city’s police staffing and the mental health issues officers deal with.
“We have to respond quickly to problems,” says Prussing, “and I think I’ve been able to do that and come up with solutions. So you’re never short of critics. But for someone who’s criticizing, I’d like to see, what would they do? Or what would they have done?”
Diane Marlin has an answer for that. She’s served on the city council for about eight years.
“Einstein had a saying,” says Marlin, “you can’t solve problems with the same mindset that created them. And we have some problems in Urbana.”
Marlin says it’s time for a change. Her priorities would be public safety, infrastructure, developing community partnerships and growing the tax base. She believes the mayor’s role is to build positive relationships for the city.
“One of my top priorities will be to re-build relationships that have been damaged over the years,” she says. “There’s a lot of people who love this city, who’ve been here a long time, who’ve been investors in the past, developed in the past, but who’ve lost confidence in the city right now.”
Reverend Evelyn Underwood has been in the community for half a century. She’s a member of more community organizations than she can count and is a regular at city council meetings.
“I am Urbana,” says Underwood, “because I’ve been here for many many years. I’ve been involved.”
She believes education and growing business are critical. Underwood says she wants to create more community partnerships and programs, and wants to motivate change driven by teamwork.
“I can’t do it by myself, of course,” she says. “There’s no way. But it’s time for the people to come forth. But you can’t sit on your sofa and expect me to make the change. We’re going to need all of your help.”
Finally, Rex Bradfield; the only Republican running. An engineer and a land surveyor, he’s run unsuccessfully before, and says the city is missing out on his unique perspective.
“Most politicians deal in solving problems, from first and foremost, how many votes is this going to cost me, or how many votes am I going to get?” says Bradfield. “I deal in solving problems as, how do I solve the problem, and what’s it going to cost us to solve the problem?”
Bradfield calls his approach “pragmatic.” He believes the city should use infrastructure as a means to bring in more businesses and therefore, more tax dollars.
“When I say that I can get businesses here, get Lincoln Square built back up, get downtown built back up, I know how to do it,” he says.
For more information on each candidate, click on their names to go to their campaign websites: