|Mayor of Champaign|
May 2011 – May 2015
|Preceded by||Gerald Schweighart|
|Succeeded by||Deborah Frank Feinen|
October 31, 1965|
Early life and work
Gerard was born October 31, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois. He moved to Champaign, Illinois in 1968, where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout in local Boy Scout Troop 7. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign but did not complete his studies.
Gerard has played in a number of local rock bands, including The Farmboys (with Adam Schmitt), The Bowery Boys (with Leroy Bach), The Moon Seven Times (with Lynn Canfield, Henry Frayne, and Brendan Gamble) on Roadrunner Records, and Steve Pride and His Blood Kin (with Jay Bennett). He was also a member of the short-lived skate rock band McWilson.
During his tenure as mayor he would often perform on stage with local and national acts such as playing "Gloria" with REO Speedwagon. He also played with others under the name The Self-Righteous Brothers, which included an opening set before Dave Pirner and contributing a song to a Buzz Magazine compilation.
On April 5, 2011, Gerard defeated three-term and twelve-year incumbent Gerald Schweighart, receiving 4,324 votes (51.4%) to Schweighart's 4,092 votes (48.6%). His four-year term began in May 2011 and ended in 2015. Upon his election, he promised responsible fiscal management without big impacts on essential city services. Schweighart defended cuts made during his tenure as appropriate.
He was defeated by Deborah Frank Feinen in his bid for re-election, after receiving 31.35 percent of the votes in a four-way race.
As liquor commissioner, Gerard issued emergency orders restricting the distribution of alcohol on "Unofficial St. Patrick's Day" (celebrated by students at the nearby University of Illinois) in February 2012 and February 2013.
Responding to a campaign by Champaign residents, Gerard and the city council voted to allow chickens to be kept within city limits for egg production. Gerard reported that he received more emails on the chicken issue than any tax issue in his first term.
Gerard has explored bringing a minor league baseball team to the city.
Together with the mayor of nearby Urbana, Laurel Prussing, Gerard has worked to get the Mahomet Aquifer designated as a Sole Source Aquifer by the EPA. This designation is intended to help prevent contamination and overuse.
Gerard has participated in several attempts to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. In July 2012, he traveled to Chicago to help fight a bill that would ban local municipalities from restricting their use. The bill was vetoed by Governor Pat Quinn in August.
For each of his four years in office, Gerard spent the night sleeping on the sidewalk to raise money and awareness for the C-U at Home fundraiser "One Winter Night." In 2015, he appeared on Jay Mohr's program on Fox Sports Radio and garnered Mohr's support for the organization as well as a $1,000 donation.
Mayor Gerard has been an active proponent of marriage equality in the State of Illinois, saying in an interview, "I'll put my voice in for marriage equality 24 hours a day. I think that's something I believe in". To this end, Gerard was an early signatory of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry petition. Despite Champaign receiving an above-average score on the Human Rights Campaign "municipal equality index" for LGBT issues, Mayor Gerard said he would continue to seek ways to improve.
In October 2013, Mayor Gerard joined with other mayors from around Illinois, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in urging the Illinois congressional delegation to vote for immigration reform. Said Gerard, "No matter from where a talented individual may come, we should be able to afford them the opportunity to keep their talents here if they so wish".
Keys to the City
Through his musical and political careers, Gerard has become a fixture of local pop culture as evidenced by winning Illini Media's "Best Personality" award in 2013 after coming in as runner-up in 2012.
As an Eagle Scout, Mayor Gerard continues to make scouting a part of his life – both by attending local Eagle Scout ceremonies, as well as serving in the board of directors for the local Prairielands Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
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