2 compete for 4th ward seat


There are two candidates running for the fourth ward seat on Urbana’s city council: incumbent Democrat Everett Ray Piper and Republican Richard Ebert. The Urbana Daily Citizen sent questions to both candidates to better inform readers of their positions prior to the Nov. 5 election. The responses are in their words, unless otherwise noted.


Everett Ray Piper: I have lived in Urbana for 71 years and I was born and raised in the fourth ward and I still live in the fourth ward. I took this job to help the people in any way I can. That is my first priority for the people in fourth ward.

Richard Ebert: My name is Richard Ebert and I’m running for Urbana City Council to represent the neighborhoods in the Fourth Ward and Urbana.

I was born and raised in Urbana, graduated from Urbana High School and graduated from Urbana University with a degree in Business Management.

I currently serve as Chair for the City of Urbana Planning Commission.

I own Ebert Entertainment. I currently work full time for the Champaign County Bureau of Motor Vehicles which is under the umbrella of the Champaign County Clerk of Courts, Penny Underwood.

What should be done about the persistent revenue problems? Higher taxes, lower expenses or both? What would you propose to cut?

Piper: (Council member Piper declined to answer this question, saying that the role of the city council was only to legislate and appropriate.)

Ebert: My goal is to research and suggest alternative ways to increase city revenue streams outside of taxing residents. We need to find ways to cover city expenses without undue burden to tax payers or cutting of essential city services or personnel.

What would be the ideal way for the city to pay for curb and gutter repair prior to street resurfacing?

Piper: The people should not have to pay because the snow plows damage them. The people in the fourth ward do not have curb gutters and sidewalks and we still have to pay $5 for storm water runoff which we should not have to pay that. If the city would quit wasting money they can pay for curbs, gutters and sidewalks.

Ebert: Per City Code, it is up to the property owner to deal with curbs, gutter and sidewalks on their property. The city has been able to replace them as resurfacing projects happen. Grant Funding will pay for the majority of current and planned projects, so less will be coming from taxpayers.

What should be done to help the downtown merchants survive the roundabout redo and thrive afterwards?

Piper: I am not a big fan of the roundabout. It’s a waste of money.

Ebert: There are downtown business organizations and a committee that are working on issues facing the downtown businesses. I’d like to see the results of their work before I make any specific comments.

Businesses being part of a strong downtown merchant organization, with help from the Chamber of Commerce and targeted advertising, will help drive visitors to our square.

Is the city responsible for protecting low-income residents at Settler’s Ridge from flooding in the Northwest Quadrant?

Piper: The city helped them a few years ago when they had flooding problems. They should not have built in a big hole.

Ebert: I met with city administration regarding this. Ownership should shoulder some responsibility, digging a larger retention pond, helping residents cleanup and informing potential residents of the flooding problems. The city will help by adding a parallel storm line to the existing drain.

How can Urbana improve communication between the city council and the residents they represent?

Piper: (Council member Piper declined to answer this question, saying that the role of the city council was only to legislate and appropriate.)

Ebert: In an age of social media, I would say there should be a way to improve communications to the residents of Urbana via live streaming, webpages and community apps. I would propose we create a committee to look into the most reasonable and effective way to better communicate the council’s meetings with the public.

What should be the city government’s top priority in 2020?

Piper: (Council member Piper declined to answer this question, saying that the role of the city council was only to legislate and appropriate.)

Ebert: Business development in Urbana, using the strengths of the CEP and Urbana’s Economic Development departments. Affordable housing developments. We need to revitalize the northern gateway to the city.





Staff report

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