1.) What is the importance of the Champaign County Board to residents in your district?
The Champaign County Board can be of extreme importance to my district, as it contains several neighborhoods and populations whose voices often go unheard in local government. An individual on the county board can't fix everything, but each is meant to be the voice of the people from their district. The importance of listening to the residents within the community has somehow been overlooked more often than not, and I feel as though that is a part of the negative stigma associated with almost everyone in politics at the moment. If we are called to be the voice of and for our district, then the moment we get back to that concept I think we will see extraordinary progress in the growth of our district and community.
2.) Why are you qualified to be on the Champaign County Board?
I live in Champaign county with my wife Tracy and our two children (Austin and Skylar) as well as our parents and family, and I have long been an active member within the community. I am a board member for local arts council 40 North (which presents Friday Night Live and the ACE Awards, amongst other things), and I’ve also been on the board for Urbana's Independent Media Center (IMC). I’ve been a part of community development groups such as Dapper University, and worked with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) while working as a bank manager in Decatur. I am currently an Assistant vice president for a large bank within Champaign County and a part of my day to day job is to assist in developing people and helping them achieve the goals they strive to complete, whether personal or professional. Financial literacy, personal development, career growth, and the ability to overcome stereotypes are only a few things that I pride myself in helping others achieve daily.
3.) If elected, what is something you want to accomplish on the County Board, and how long will it take?
The first mission that I know is at the top of everyone’s list is sorting out the Champaign County two-jail situation. I've studied the issue closely and attended meetings and forums to learn more about the $47 million expansion plan that has been presented to the board. I plan to fight against spending anything near that amount while also advocating for smarter and better spending on programs and initiatives that keep people out of county lockup in the first place. My plan is to find a way to create a transitional program that will teach the basics of financial literacy and personal development in the transition of former inmates or individuals struggling to lift themselves from poverty. The know-how of relatively basic skills that may otherwise have continued to go unknown can make a world of difference with someone who is hanging by a thread. In my career this is something that I have seen daily: the lack of basic “living skills” within the community of people that look like me. I want to give the Black community, as well as other communities of color and those trapped in white poverty and others who may feel left out an opportunity to acquire the knowledge and/or resources to be able to better survive in everyday society.
4.) Is there anything else you would like to say to an undecided voter?
Whoever you cast your vote for, just please be sure that you get out and vote. And also encourage your friends and family to vote! We need to leave old mentalities about voting (and jury duty, and census reporting) behind. In 2020 we need to be making sure that we are heard and represented correctly. For my own part in running and representing you, I can promise that you will get someone who will never pretend to know more or be more than I am. I don't want to be making decisions about things I'm uneducated on, so I will always devote time to learning about board business. I don't think that's done enough, and we have great caucus members who are well educated in many fields who can help other members. I would love to add my financial background to that equation. I am a man faith, who believes that there is still an opportunity for unification in our society. I want to be a part of the fight for change that we all agree is necessary. Honesty. Integrity. Passion.