Teresa Beverly announced her candidacy for Urbana’s city council today in a joint video with Independent mayoral candidate Justin Weller, with whom she will campaign on an “Urbana Wins” platform. Beverly said she had been meeting weekly with Weller as well as at-large council candidate Cassie Cress on the joint campaign to raise Urbana’s minimum wage and improve communication between the council and the citizens.
“I am proud to be from Urbana,” Beverly said. “I spent a year right out of high school in Portland, Oregon, which is a big city, and I was really glad to be back here. I like that it is a small town, so I think that ‘Urbana Wins’ is not saying that we have to be a big corporate place. I think that ‘Urbana Wins’ is the people of Urbana being able to feel like they have the opportunity to do what they want in life and to succeed.”
Beverly said she will run for the council seat to be vacated by council member Tony Pena when he resigns at the end of March to accept a pastoral job in Texas. His term ends on Dec. 31, 2021. According to the county board of elections, city council has 45 days from Pena’s day of resignation to appoint someone to fill his seat. If the council fails to appoint within the time limit, it falls to the council president to appoint a person. The appointee will serve until the non-partisan winner of the November election is sworn into office.
Council is accepting resumes for the appointed position now through March 15 at noon. Anyone interested may submit a resume to Council Clerk Amy Deere by e-mailing [email protected]
Beverly is the executive assistant at the GrandWorks Foundation, which operates the Gloria Theatre. Prior to this she held various management positions at Rittal over 11 years, including supervisory, young leadership and consulting roles.
“I learned a lot about facilitation, as far as getting different groups together and everybody talking, but also I pride myself at being a problem-solver,” she said. “It was one of the things that I was very good at there, and that’s why I was moved to so many different positions to figure out things or just to advise, and I think those things will help me a lot (on council).
“I think there are a lot of different opportunities that we have had that we’ve missed, and I want to be a part of getting those,” she added. “I want to be a part of seeing that happen.”
Beverly said she had thought about being on the council, but never had the guts until she saw Weller’s “Urbana Wins” platform.
“I ran into Teresa on the day of the announcement and she approached me and asked some good questions about the platform, but after that she said she was ready to canvass or do whatever we need to do to make this happen,” Weller said. “Shortly after that it led to some more conversations about how what we really need are citizens to step up and show our fellow citizens that there are those of us willing to make this change happen. And evidently she decided that she was one of those people.”
Beverly has three children who attend Graham Middle School and a husband who works at Ultra-met. She has volunteered with both the Gloria Theater and His Hands Extended Sanctuary.
Weller said that although he, Cress and Beverly will each have a web pages, all will link back to urbanawins.com, where citizens can find information on specific policies proposed.
According to the website, when Baby Boomers were working their first jobs, their wages were the equivalent of nearly $18/hour today. The “Urbana Wins” campaign hopes to incentivize businesses to raise wages to at least $12 an hour and raise wages for all workers through tax programs. Beverly said that as a lifetime member of the working class, this is the portion of the campaign that most appealed to her, that $12 was not a random number but a figure arrived at by comparing what the minimum wage used to be set against inflation, and that tax write-offs would be critical to making the program work.
As for improving communication between the government and citizens, Weller said that the city website needs to be completely rebuilt and redesigned, there needs to be a social media strategy, and he would like council to start a weekly roundtable available over the internet so that people can hear directly from their elected officials.
Weller said on Monday that he anticipated having his petition filed with the county board of elections by the middle of the week, and that the legal name of the campaign had been filed with the board. He noted that he and Cress had been selected to serve on the city’s Charter Review Committee and and that they were pleased to be already making an impact on local government.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304