Incumbent Paul Wright, appointed to the Urbana Township Board of Trustees in January following the retirement of Jim Coon, will face challenger Audra Bean in the Nov. 3 general election for the trustee seat.
Wright grew up in southwestern Champaign County and graduated from Graham High School in 1972. An Army veteran, he started out as a farm equipment repairman before opening his own lawn equipment business in 1981. From 1986 to 2013, he worked for the Champaign County Engineer’s Office, working his way up to become the equipment maintenance supervisor.
Besides serving as township trustee for the past nine months, Wright said, he’s served as a trustee for six years – one year as the chairperson – at the Terre Haute United Methodist Church. Most of his background in politics, however, involves watching those close to him operate in various government roles.
“My mother was elected Champaign County auditor in the mid-1970s and later was elected clerk for Urbana Township,” he said. “Also, a large portion of my working career was for an elected official in the Champaign County engineer.”
Wright said it’s been his honor to serve as an Urbana Township trustee since the first of the year, especially “gaining the trust of the people that have chosen (Grandview Cemetery) to be either theirs or a loved one’s final resting place.”
He went on to say, “I have learned about this position by doing all the different projects and work required of a trustee …picking up litter, cutting brush, roadside mowing, snow removal, patching potholes, coordinating with contractors on projects and being available to the residents of Urbana Township.”
Wright and his wife, Debra, live on Short Cut Road. The couple have five adult children and 12 grandchildren.
Bean has lived in Champaign County most of her life, most of which has been spent living and working in Urbana Township. She is a 1985 graduate of Urbana High School. After receiving an associate’s degree in business from Clark State Community College, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in 2003 from Urbana University.
Bean worked for attorney Richard Meyer for five years after graduating from high school, and in 1991 she began working for her current employer, CRSI in Urbana. At CRSI, she is a member of the senior management team, a department manager, CRSI safety and health chairperson, and supervisor of administrative staff for the corporate office and five regional offices in Ohio.
Bean is no stranger to politics, having served as the secretary of the county Republican central and executive committees as well as campaign manger for her husband and current Urbana mayor, Bill Bean, during his runs for city council and mayor. She has been membership chairperson for the Urbana Lions Club, chairperson of the Simon Kenton Chili Cook-Off Committee and a member of the Champaign County Citizens for Canines Board.
“I was very proud to lead this group (canines) in bringing a dog park, Fido’s Field, to Melvin Miller Park,” she said.
Bean, a member of the Urbana Township Association, is the county’s Republican Party chairperson and is on its executive committee. She is the vice president of the Urbana Lions Club and sponsorship chairperson for the Simon Kenton Chili Cook-Off.
“I am a proven leader, and I am a fair person with a strong business background and common sense,” she said.
Bean said if elected to the Urbana Township Board of Trustees, she would focus on safety and developing a more productive partnership with the city of Urbana.
“I would want to ensure the safety of Urbana Township and that means keeping the professionalism of the Urbana Fire Department as our township’s first responders,” she said.
Bean went on to say the township needs to partner, through the Joint Economic Development District, with the city in order to continue receiving tax dollars for land lost to the city, citing her belief that the city will continue “to encroach on township land.”
“As your trustee, I would be pushing for these discussions to ensure we receive something in return,” she said. “We have to begin to create partnerships and work together to move forward.”
Bean has a step-daughter and two grandchildren.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.