Mayor-elect Gerard builds team of experts

Champaign Mayor-elect Don Gerard is building a transition team to help him get ready to be sworn into office May 3.

The team will be made up of experts from the community to help him assess each city department individually.

Gerard said he is the first Champaign mayor to create a team of its kind.

“Bringing in people with an amount of expertise in a certain area will help flatten the learning curve for me,” Gerard said.

Gerard said a group of experts would help him save time from having to learn how each of the city departments work, and would help him be able to work more effectively with each department.

“We’re not trying to audit the departments,” Gerard said. “I’m just trying to get an assessment to help me communicate better with them.”

The transition team met for the first time Thursday, and will start getting to work with city departments next week.

Gerard told the team members to each act as mayor in figuring out what the departments are doing and how they are doing it.

Members of the team were chosen by Gerard based on trust and personal contact.

Some city business leaders are members of the team, but Gerard has said it will not create a conflict of interest.

“I tried to really create a non-partisan group and balance it out from a personality standpoint and get a good representation of the community,” Gerard said.

One of the members of the team is newly elected District 5 city council member Paul Faraci. Faraci said he was flattered to be asked to serve the community as a member of the team and wants to do whatever he can to be of assistance.

“This whole thing is also a learning experience for me that will take me out of my comfort zone which I think is a good thing,” he said.

Donte Lotts said he joined the team to help out with community relations.

“I want to help Mayor-elect Gerard keep dialogue with the community to help build Champaign to the best of our abilities,” Lotts said.

The 12-person team includes: Faraci, Lotts, Laurie Bonnett, Peter Fox, Rochelle Funderburg, Jeff Kibler, Doug Larson, Jim McGuire, William Patterson, Bruce Ratcliffe, Jim Turner and Scott Whitsitt.