Candidate Profile: Darlene Kloeppel is running for County Executive

What does a County Executive do?  Learn a bit about this new county office and the candidates running for the position in November 2018, including a profile of Democratic candidate Darlene Kloeppel.


When Champaign County elects a full-time county executive next November it will become only the second county in Illinois with the office.  In 2016, Champaign County voters decided to change the structure of the County government via referendum.  The County Executive will oversee the administration of the County’s business, similar to the President at the Federal level or the Governor at the State level. The County Board will remain the legislative branch of government.

As planned, the elected executive would have broad powers, including the authority to propose the county budget, make appointments with board approval, hire a staff, set county board agendas, implement the majority of county ordinances and veto actions of the county board, although vetoes could be overridden with a three-fifths majority.  In addition to overseeing the administration of County services, the County Executive will preside over County Board meetings.

(This summary adapted from and See these sites for more detail than is covered here.)


The Democratic candidate for County Executive is the subject of this profile, Darlene Kloeppel.  There’s more information on Darlene below.  The Republican candidate is Gordy Hulten. Gordy has served as Champaign County Clerk since 2011; his campaign web site is


Darlene Kloeppel and her husband Jim have lived in Champaign County for over 21 years.

Born near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, and after living in Germany for the four years of her dad’s military service, Darlene grew up in western Iowa and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Morningside College in Sioux City. After earning a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Iowa, Darlene worked on the Federal project that integrated hospice services into the Medicare payment system and the start-up of some of the first hospices around the United States, including Hospice Atlanta which provided pediatric hospice care and hospice care for persons with AIDS.

Darlene attended the Georgia Institute of Technology for additional degrees in architecture and city planning, after which she provided correctional facility consulting through Rosser Fabrap Justice Systems and later offered strategic and facility planning for health care corporations as a senior consultant with Ernst and Young, LLP.

Wanting to move back to the Midwest, Darlene and Jim chose Champaign County, where Jim became a science writer for the University of Illinois.  Darlene first assisted with the leadership transition of corporate executives from three merging hospital systems as they formed Provena Health Care (now OSF) and then served for 15 years as the Community Services Director of the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.  During her public administration tenure, she managed over $11 million in Federal, state and local grants through diverse public/private partnerships.  Since then, she has provided regional consulting services.

Darlene and Jim raised four children in Urbana, and Darlene spends leisure time with her grandchildren and in her garden.  She is a leader in Urbana Rotary and in her church, and has served on many local boards and committees. She is committed to providing a safe and healthy community for residents of Champaign County.

For over 20 years, Darlene also has volunteered her skills to strengthen Champaign County. She has:

  • worked with Frances Nelson Health Center to establish their own pharmacy
  • helped found the Prosperity Garden
  • helped the Urbana Connection Center and the Legal Information Desk at the courthouse to obtain funding
  • arranged for weatherization of group homes and shelters operated by Developmental Services Center, Community Elements (now Rosecrance), Restoration Urban Ministries
  • supported start-up of the local funders’ workgroup to better coordinate local grant-making
  • served as a field instructor for students of all ages from U of I, Eastern University, ISU, SIU, AmeriCorps, Ways to Work, Senior Employment Training Program and Summer Youth Employment Program
  • oriented new directors at Urbana Adult Education and Child Advocacy Center to state grant reporting requirements
  • offered a free class on basic case management skills for new workers at non-profit agencies in the community


Darlene’s positions on key issues for Champaign County are available online at: Below are excerpts from a few of the issues. Visit the site for more issues and more detail.

Dream Big Champaign County At a series of 12 town hall meetings held across Champaign County in February and March of 2018 to discuss the position of County Executive for Champaign County with local voters, constituents were asked to “Dream Big!” and share what Champaign County needed in the coming years. Included here is a listing of responses, organized by categories. I plan to use this citizen input as a starting point for developing a 6-year strategic plan with the Board after I am elected.

Regional Economic Development  Champaign County, situated in East Central Illinois, is home to over 200,000 residents and is one of the few counties in the state with a growing population. Residents deserve a County Executive committed to actively seeking and promoting initiatives that make Champaign County a prosperous place where its residents can thrive.

Vision for the Office of Champaign County Executive In 2016, Champaign County voters passed a referendum to change the form of county government to that of a County Executive who will be elected on November 6, 2018. In each area of responsibility given to the County Executive by the Illinois Counties Code, I demonstrate a level of experience and innovation important to the future economic growth of Champaign County while at the same time working to build a vision for the well-being of its citizens.

Champaign County Jail  The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office operates two adult jail facilities. The downtown facility will need significant renovation for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance (per notice from the Department of Justice), along with remediation of several health and safety concerns for continued occupancy. Because some County bonds used to build the jail will be paid off in January 2018, over $1 million will be freed up for other County uses. The 2018 County budget discussion has become heated about whether to use these funds to expand the satellite jail, to increase pre-trial and mental health services for those arrested (thus potentially eliminating the need for any jail expansion), or simply to discontinue the levy. Not only have I consulted nationally for construction, renovation, or repurposing of incarceration facilities, I also served as spokesperson for the 2013 Champaign County Community Justice Task Force and oversaw the start-up of the Youth Assessment Center for juvenile diversion services in Champaign County. One of my first recommendations as County Executive would be to pilot some public-private partnerships for pre-trial and re-entry programs to reduce the jail population, so that we can close the downtown jail site.


Last spring, the Champaign County Voters Alliance sent a 4 question survey to candidates in the November election.  Take a look at Darlene’s section in the Candidate Guide to get a feeling for the candidate’s qualifications and approach to the office.


Darlene’s web site is where you can contribute to the campaign or volunteer.  She’s on Facebook and Twitter and you can reach her campaign by email at