The county board serves on the frontlines of government. The decisions they make impact the everyday lives of residents. When communities are hurting, it’s the County Board’s job to help. If the county board does their job well, residents get the basics— affordable housing, public safety, vibrant neighborhoods, accessible elections, and fair courts. The county budget is the most important tool we have to meet those commitments.
But neighbors aren't getting the basics.
For the past decade, 21% (25% by ACS 5-year estimates) of our neighbors have been trapped below the poverty level. That’s much higher than any comparable county in Illinois, and it means Champaign County needs to make a change.
What does the County Board do?
Why are we so far behind?
Democrats have held a majority on the Champaign County Board since 2002. In that time, four county board chairs have secured their position by promising Republicans preferred positions on key committees in exchange for their votes.
Emily defeated the last chair to sell out with 83.31% of the vote.
Emily’s Vision will get us back on track.
I'm fighting for 5 policies, but they all aim to fix the same problem: Poverty. The goal is to break the generational cycle of poverty and reduce its harms. When we give struggling communities a safety net, we expand our tax base and become less reliant on the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers for revenue.
A truly stable budget is one that works for everyone.
Build accessible, affordable housing options that work for residents.
I’ll work with others on the Board to open a public conversation about emergency and recovery housing. We can begin that conversation on day one. Ultimately, I seek to increase affordable housing options in Champaign County and deepen the Board’s relationship with the Housing Authority and Regional Planning Commission.
Partner with local building and construction trade unions.
I am committed to building a meaningful partnership between the County Board and our local building and construction trade unions. Before 2022, I would work to mandate collective bargaining agreements on county-backed projects. These community agreements have been found to improve safety on worksites, lower costs, and open the trades to women and people of color. Community agreements are just one way we can ensure more workers in Champaign County get a livable wage.
Restructure our budget.
Progress doesn't have to mean higher taxes. In the long run, we need to restructure our budget to better reflect our values. Approving home rule would give the County the flexibility needed to reallocate the revenue we already have.
Until then, Champaign County should take advantage of federal grants that would likely become available under a new presidential administration. For example, the Second Chance Act has received bipartisan support, but funding has dropped dramatically in recent years. This is just one program that could fund the anti-poverty measures we so desperately need.
Shrink our incarceration system.
Before 2022, I’d seek to demolish the defunct downtown jail and commit to dramatically reduce the number of beds in the satellite jail.This makes sense for many reasons. For example, the State Legislature is expected to end cash bail soon. Between 70-90% of our jail population is awaiting trial, meaning they have not been convicted of a crime, they are waiting to make bail. With this change, we can expect the needs of the jail to decrease significantly with fewer people.
Reduce the harms of substance use disorder and other non-visible health conditions.
An estimated 22,000 Champaign County residents deal with substance use disorder, and the current wait time for recovery treatment is 6 months - 1 year. We need to expand access to treatment and encourage community solutions like recovery housing.
Also, the harms of homelessness and drug use often overlap in ways the County should consider when they make policy decisions. In the 2018 point-in-time survey, there were 188 individuals across 140 households experiencing homelessness in Champaign County. We have a great need for 24-hour emergency and temporary housing options that can accommodate women and families, and the County Board needs to partner with local groups and organizations like Cunningham Township to make those resources available to residents.