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DECATUR — Rodney Walker said he hopes to take his advocacy for Decatur’s youth to the next level as he announced his candidacy for Decatur City Council on Sunday.

Walker, 44, is the CEO of SkyWalker International Sports Complex, 400 E. Eldorado St., and the Eisenhower High School varsity boys basketball coach. He is a 1991 St. Teresa High School graduate who played professional basketball overseas for eight years before he returned to Decatur.

“I know what’s needed, I’ve been there, and I will be that voice for you guys when it comes that time,” he told an audience of supporters in Mueller Park. “I can’t make miracles happen but I can be the one to stand up for us and voice our opinion from the bottom up.”

Three council seats are up in the April 2019 election, which also includes the race for mayor. Of the council incumbents, Lisa Gregory has said she will run again; Bill Faber has not yet decided whether to seat his seat; and Dana Ray has said she will not seek another term. 

At least 16 people have taken out petitions for either council or mayor. The petitions must be filed with at least 115 signatures by Nov. 26. Decatur municipal elections are nonpartisan. 

Walker’s announcement came during one of the “Southside Sundays” events that he helped to organize this summer, starting in August. They feature barbecue, basketball games and a DJ, and are largely fueled by donations and volunteers with help from the Decatur Park District, he said.

“This is how we grew up in the park, and it kind of died out for some reason. I want these kids to be able to see this is fun,” Walker said. “We have responsible adults out here that can keep an eye on things and at the same time, have a good time.”

In addition to his roles at SkyWalker and Eisenhower, Walker said he also works as a medical distributor. He is a member of the Southside Improvement Association and the John C. Ellis Masonic Lodge No. 17.

Walker is the second non-incumbent to say publicly that he is running for a spot on the council, which has seven seats including the mayor. The first was Marty Watkins, who ran for the office in 2017 and lost with 4,298 votes. Watkins is the founder of the "Walk in My Shoes" campaign, which donates shoes to students of Decatur Public Schools. 

In the mayor's race, incumbent Julie Moore Wolfe has said she will seek another term. Moore Wolfe is executive director of philanthropy, advocacy and community relations for HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur. She is being challenged by Kara Demirjian Huss, founder of DCC Marketing and former president of the Economic Development Corp. of Decatur and Macon County. 

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Contact Allison Petty at (217) 421-6986. Follow her on Twitter: @allison0512

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Regional Editor

Regional editor for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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