The Champaign County Democratic Party has endorsed C. PIUS WEIBEL (District 7) and SHANA JO HARRISON (District 9) as our preferred candidates in their districts for Champaign County Board in the March 18 Democratic primary election. The endorsement motion from the party’s Executive Board was presented and approved unanimously at the Wednesday, February 22 regular meeting of the Central Committee. No other endorsements in any other races were recommended to the committee.
Party endorsements in primary elections, while routine in much of Illinois, are rare in Champaign County. Discussion of the motion focused on two reasons for the committee to break precedent and endorse these two candidates at this time:
First, this action supports the Champaign County voters who have elected Democratic majorities on the County Board every two years for more than a decade. The incumbents in Districts 7 and 9 engaged in a back-room leadership deal with the Republicans in 2012. Their arrangement certainly suited the individuals involved, but it betrayed the trust of the voters who elected them and their Democratic colleagues elsewhere in the county. The County Democratic Party has a duty to support all Democratic voters and to deter such self-serving maneuvers in the future. We are confident that Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison will work with Republican board members to support the best interests of all Champaign County residents, regardless of party affiliation. We are confident also that if the voters choose to elect a Democratic County Board majority, Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison will respect that choice, and will work with the Democratic caucus to organize the the board and set its agenda.
Second, we believe Mr. Weibel and Ms. Harrison are progressive Democrats who will more effectively represent their districts. Pius Weibel is an experienced board member with a solid (and bipartisan) record of leadership. Shana Harrison, former President of the UIUC Illini Democrats, works with Champaign County organized labor and understands well the largely young and diverse residents of District 9.
The Party’s by-laws have allowed us to endorse candidates in primary elections since 2006. However, local Democrats have refrained from doing so until now. Many if not most of us prefer that the Party and its Chair never get involved in any primaries, and this is a first for us. Our unanimous decision signifies that we believe the stakes are just too high for us to sit quietly on the sidelines for these two races in this election.
Alvin G. Klein
Chair, Champaign County Democrats