DECATUR — A marketing executive and former president of the Economic Development Corp. of Decatur and Macon County is running for Decatur mayor.
Kara Demirjian Huss announced her campaign on Thursday.
"I believe that the leadership in our city government from the mayor's position could definitely be stronger," she said. "We need someone who can provide the expertise and leadership, and really an inside perspective from a business side."
She is the first candidate to come forward to challenge the incumbent, Julie Moore Wolfe, who is seeking her second full term.
A Decatur native and graduate of the University of Illinois, Demirjian Huss' family has played a prominent role in Decatur's business community for decades. Her father, Gerry Demirjian, started a manufacturing plant in Decatur.
Demirjian Huss founded DCC Marketing, which has done work for the Decatur Park District, Decatur Memorial Hospital and businesses such as Archer Daniels Midland Co.
Demirjian Huss' pitch as a business-friendly candidate ready to collaborate with local stakeholders tracks closely to the incumbent Moore Wolfe, a former president of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce who often touts the level of cooperation that's developed between local government entities like the county and park district.
Said Moore Wolfe on Thursday: "I'm really going to run on my own record. I think I've done a really good job of collaborating with other entities, and we've had some really good wins."
Demirjian Huss said she also has experience with real estate development from working in her family's company that could be applied to issues surrounding the city's neighborhood revitalization project, which seeks to raze abandoned properties and tackle quality of life issues.
"Retail follows rooftops — we need to look at the neighborhoods where there are opportunities for real estate development, what are we doing to make sure that area is prepped and waiting for someone to come with us with incentives," she said. "We need to be more proactive, full stop."
Municipal elections for mayor and city council will take place April 2, five months following the fall midterm elections.
Councilwoman Lisa Gregory has said she is running to keep her seat, and Councilwoman Dana Ray announced last week she will not be running again, leaving an open seat. Councilman Bill Faber has not yet announced whether he will run for re-election.