Don Gerard

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Don Gerard
Don Gerard, Mayor of the City of Champaign, Illinois.jpg
Mayor of Champaign
In office
May 2011 (2011-May) – May 2015 (2015-May)
Preceded by Gerald Schweighart
Succeeded by Deborah Frank Feinen
Personal details
Born (1965-10-31)October 31, 1965
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Children Two
Profession Facilities manager

Don Gerard (born October 31, 1965) is the former mayor of the city of Champaign, Illinois.[1]

Early life and work[edit]

Gerard was born October 31, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois.[2] He moved to Champaign, Illinois in 1968, where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout in local Boy Scout Troop 7.[3] He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign[4] but did not complete his studies.

Prior to serving as mayor, he began a job as a facilities manager at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where he continues to work.[2][5]


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)[6] on Roadrunner Records, and Steve Pride and His Blood Kin (with Jay Bennett).[7] He was also a member of the short-lived skate rock band McWilson.[8]

During his tenure as mayor he would often perform on stage with local and national acts such as playing "Gloria"[9] with REO Speedwagon. He also played with others under the name The Self-Righteous Brothers,[10] which included an opening set before Dave Pirner and contributing a song to a Buzz Magazine compilation.[11]



On April 5, 2011, Gerard defeated three-term and twelve-year incumbent Gerald Schweighart,[12] receiving 4,324 votes (51.4%) to Schweighart's 4,092 votes (48.6%).[13] His four-year term began in May 2011[12] and ended in 2015.[1] Upon his election, he promised responsible fiscal management without big impacts on essential city services. Schweighart defended cuts made during his tenure as appropriate.[12]

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.[14]


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.[15][16]

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.[17]

Gerard has explored bringing a minor league baseball team to the city.[18]



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.[19][20] This designation is intended to help prevent contamination and overuse.[21]

Gerard has participated in several attempts to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags.[22] In July 2012, he traveled to Chicago to help fight a bill that would ban local municipalities from restricting their use.[23][24] The bill was vetoed by Governor Pat Quinn in August.[25]

Homeless advocacy[edit]

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."[26] 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.[27][28]

Marriage Equality[edit]

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".[29] To this end, Gerard was an early signatory of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry petition.[30] 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.[31]


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".[32]

Keys to the City[edit]

Gerard presented Keys to the City to citizens of and guests to Champaign who made contributions to the city.[33] Recipients included Will Leitch, Roger Ebert, Dr. Ollie Watts Davis and Viktor Krauss.


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.[34][35]

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.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Home > City Council". Website of the City of Champaign. City of Champaign. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Candidates for mayor of Champaign". The News Gazette. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  3. ^ "Don Gerard | Mayor of Champaign >> About". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ "About Don". Retrieved October 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Staff Directory". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Integrative Biology. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  6. ^ "Hive Five: Musicians With Political Cred". Viacom (MTV Hive). August 8, 2011. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ Margasak, Peter (April 6, 2011). "Former Rocker Don Gerard Elected Mayor of Champaign". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Don Gerard for Mayor"
  9. ^ "REO Speedwagon Red Lion Champaign IL May 27 2011". May 27, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  10. ^ "The Black Sheep Interviews: Champaign Mayor Don Gerard". August 21, 2014. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Buzz Releases "Covering Our Tracks" Compilation". February 6, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b c Wade, Patrick (April 6, 2011). "Gerard elected mayor of Champaign". The News-Gazette. Retrieved July 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Official Final County Summary*". Champaign County Clerk. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Deb Frank Feinen Defeats Champaign Mayor Don Gerard". Illinois Public Media. April 7, 2015. Archived from the original on December 30, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Champaign Mayor issues emergency order for Unofficial". Daily Illini. February 10, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Gerard issues emergency order for 2013 'Unofficial'". The News-Gazette. February 20, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Champaign council backs chickens". The News-Gazette. July 9, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Champaign mayor wants baseball in town's future". State Journal-Register. Associated Press. June 27, 2011. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Coalition seeks to stop landfill from taking PCB's". WGLT. October 16, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Mahomet 'Sole Source' Aquifer Petition Process Underway". WILL Radio/TV online. October 15, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ "The Mahomet Aquifer". Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ Patrick Wade (February 8, 2012). "Champaign officials look at reining in use of plastic bags". The News-Gazette. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Girl to Quinn: Bag the plastic bag bill". Chicago Tribune. July 2, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  24. ^ "12-Year-Old Girl Urges Quinn To Toss Out Plastic Bag Legislation". CBS Chicago. July 3, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Governor Quinn Vetoes 'Plastic Bag' Bill, Calls it a Roadblock to Innovation". August 26, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  26. ^ "One Winter Night 2015". February 6, 2015. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  27. ^ Vorel, Carol; Ditman, Tim (February 9, 2015), Updated: comedian pledges support to C-U homeless group, News-Gazette, retrieved May 4, 2016 
  28. ^ Pauly, Tom (February 9, 2015), Mayor Don Gerard on Jay Mohr Sports, Smile Politely, retrieved May 4, 2016 
  29. ^ Donald Mabbott (October 10, 2013). "15 questions for Mayor Don Gerard". Smile Politely. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Mayors for the Freedom to Marry". Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  31. ^ Wade, Patrick (November 28, 2013). "LGBT equality index puts Champaign in middle of Illinois cities". The News-Gazette. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  32. ^ Ellison, Nyajai (October 30, 2013). "Illinois mayors call for immigration reform to help economy". The Daily Illini. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Mayor Don Gerard to present keys to the city of champaign at the Illini Rebounders Club luncheon". January 11, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  34. ^ Neumann, Sean (November 8, 2013). "Winner: Don Gerard". Retrieved December 4, 2013.  External link in |newspaper= (help)
  35. ^ Durley, Dan (November 10, 2012). "Winner: Dawna Nelson". buzz. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Board of Directors – Prairielands Council, BSA". Retrieved February 2, 2014. 

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