URBANA – Entrenched political powers are resorting to questionable and sometimes unlawful campaign tactics in order to control the political outcome of the upcoming 2021 Champaign County Consolidated Primary Election.

This is especially so since a new cohort of candidates, unsatisfied with the current local government, have entered the political arena this election.

Caracal Reports spoke to newcomer candidates Rita Conerly (City of Champaign Township Supervisor), Justin Micháel Hendrix (Champaign City Council District 3, write-in candidate), and Meghan McDonald (Urbana City Council Ward 5) about the intimidation and antagonism they faced from elected officials within the Champaign County Democratic Party (read here).

More recently, former Urbana City Council member, Esther Patt used her connections within the City to obtain confidential information about police complaints made to the Civilian Police Review Board (CPRB) (read here). She publicly disclosed the information in an attempt to damage the reputation of a newcomer candidate, who is running in opposition to her candidate of choice.

In another instance, Phyllis Clark, the current Urbana City Clerk filmed her campaign video in what looks appears to be the City Clerk’s office.

Phyllis Clark was chosen by Mayor Diane Marlin to fill the City Clerk position after the resignation of Charlie Smyth in 2020. Clark is running against Titiana Ammons for the position of City Clerk in this coming election.

Both the Urbana Employee Ethics Ordinance and the Illinois Employee Ethics Act prohibit using City and State property or resources for the benefit of any campaign for elective office.

It is unclear who performed the filming of Clark’s campaign video but the City Building has been closed to the public since the start of the pandemic.

Clark’s campaign video has since been removed from her Facebook campaign page but is available below.

Many of the first-time candidates for the Champaign-Urbana 2021 Municipal Elections are community activists, watchdogs, and volunteers. They are running for office to give voices to marginalized communities in our cities.

It is concerning that the entrenched political powers are getting away with violating laws regarding political activities, further propagating the inequalities in political power and representation in Champaign County.