University of Illinois Urbana Champaign | By Daniel Schwen - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4350003
Deborah Frank Feinen started out her career of public service as a Champaign County Board member, a position her mother had held, but it was not long before she realized that she wanted to do more for her community, she says, and decided to run for mayor.
“Later, as my county board district was redistricted to a much more rural district, I realized that the joy for me in public service was serving my friends and neighbors and that City Council was a much better fit as it would be serving the people around me that I interacted with regularly,” Feinen told the Chambana Sun. “I ran for mayor because I felt that I could offer the community a hard-working and professional mayor.”
Since taking office, Feinen has started a number of programs focused on improving the community as a whole.
“We have enacted the Champaign Diversity Advancement Program (CDAP), encouraging participation from minority- and women-owned businesses in City projects and purchases. We have also passed a local purchasing policy,” Feinen said. “We have supported the YMCA’s New America Welcoming Center (for immigrants), re-written the liquor code and created the Small Business Incentive Program and Virtual Incubator.”
Thanks to the efforts of Feinen and her team, Champaign enjoys dockless bike sharing; their efforts also accelerated drainage- and street-infrastructure project completion.
“We are the only growing City in downstate Illinois with $238,246,913 in construction permits last year, and we passed zoning changes for the ‘in town’ neighborhood. We have gone live with City budget information on our website in a transparency portal,” Feinen said. “As you can imagine, over the course of four years there have been many projects and policy changes, but these do stand out as significant.”
As Mayor, Feinen hopes to improve the lives of those who are vulnerable in the community through workforce development and intervention with the help of Unit #4 schools.
“We need to concentrate on the people who make our community great and open opportunities for as many as possible,” Feinen said. “I also want to continue to have Champaign be a great place to live, work, stay and play. To accomplish this we need to continue to have short commute times and entertainment opportunities, be progressive on environmental issues and generally be a forward-thinking, trend-setting community.
In addition, "I want to continue to work through CU- Fresh Start and the Community Coalition to develop strategies to end the gun violence in our community and the County,” Feinen said.