Who are the 2021 Peoria Mayoral Candidates? For the first time since 2005, Jim Ardis will not be the mayor of Peoria. Ardis, who served four consecutive terms as mayor, decided not to run for re-election this year. That leaves the field open to five candidates on the ballot and a couple of write-in candidates (Couri Thomas and Chuck Brown). Of the five names that will appear on the ballot for the Feb. 23 primary, three are members of the Peoria City Council while two others are making their first bid for public office.
Interest in the mayoral primary appears to be running high, according to WEEK-TV. Peoria Election Commission head Thomas Bride reported a dramatic increase in early voting so far and looks for this year’s early tallies to “far exceed” early voting results tabulated in the 2017 mayoral primary, the station reported earlier this month.
We’ve scanned some of the Peoria Mayoral candidates coverage provided by Peoria media for the following rundown:
At-Large Member of Peoria City Council/VP of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College
Ali , who was the largest vote-getter in the 2019 primary in Peoria, said she will step down from her post at ICC if elected to focus on the job as mayor.
“As mayor, I will prioritize jobs, economic growth and population growth, neighborhood safety, education and equity,” she told Peoria magazine.
“I envision Peoria becoming a ‘smart city,’ using digital technology to connect, protect and enhance the lives of citizens,” Ali told the magazine.
“I recently read about how Columbus, Ohio became the fastest-growing city in the Midwest—and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Columbus is a smart city. It also developed a coordinated plan to create 150,000 jobs over a 10-year period, boosted entrepreneurship and small businesses and involved many stakeholders to work their plan,” she noted.
In a forum held at WCBU-FM, Peoria public radio, Ali related that “In many ways, the city government has to be more like a business in terms of modifying what you’re doing, thinking out of the box and being creative in ways to generate revenue.”
For more information about Rita Ali, visit https://ritaali.com
ANDRES “ANDY’ DIAZ
Account manager at Caterpillar, Inc.
Diaz, who operates the Urban Acres farm and Springboard Market in the North Valley where he lives, is making his first run for public office.
On the WCBU forum, he said one of his goals is to make it easier for citizens to work with city management.
“As mayor, I will lead the council to fund basic city services before spending money on pet projects. We must also foster grassroots development, changing policy to empower local entrepreneurs to chase their dreams – and give them the ability to do so within the city,” Diaz told Peoria magazine.
“Our current situation is not unlike the 1980s when Jim Maloof ran to become mayor of Peoria. At that time he branded our council as the ‘do-nothing’ city council, highlighting the vacant buildings and boarded-up businesses at the time. Over the past year, with the added challenges of COVID-19, it appears Peoria has gone back to its past instead of embracing its present and future,” he said.
For more information about Andres (Andy) Diaz, visit https://www.diazformayor.com
4TH District Peoria City Council member/ CEO of EngineeringPeople
Montelongo spelled out some of the debts facing Peoria on the WCBU forum: “We have $330 million in pension liability, $150 million in combined sewer overflow, $40 million in the Hotel Pere Marquette debacle, a declining population and resources. Our property tax is one of the highest in Illinois.”
“We need less taxes and fees on business and more growth incentives. Peoria needs to adopt ‘economic gardening’ principles. We need to have a focused economic team, with business consultant resources, available to help every small and mid-sized business grow new customers and reach new markets,” he told Peoria magazine.
“We need to create a neighborhood-by-neighborhood plan and rating to address all of the ‘broken’ windows in neighborhoods. Peoria is at a pivotal moment in time, with some of the biggest challenges we have ever faced. We need a strong leader with a focus on jobs and economic growth,” Montelongo told the magazine.
For more information about Jim Montelongo, visit https://www.jimmontelongo.com
At-Large Member of Peoria City Council/ Entrepreneur in restaurant industry
Ruckriegel lists his top three issues as getting the city’s finances in order, job creation and safer neighborhoods.
“The public safety pension problem, however, is likely to be too large to be solved by spending cuts alone,” he told the Peoria Journal Star, referring to mounting pension costs for members of the city’s police and fire departments.
“We exist at a crossroad today,” Ruckriegel told the paper. “A steady hand is needed to navigate this crossroad and my record of experience demonstrates that I am the best candidate for mayor to lead through this crucial time.”
When asked about the possibility of a conflict since his longtime domestic partner is Andrew Rand, chairman of the Peoria County Board, Ruckriegel told the Journal Star: “I will be mindful of my duties at all times. I will address all matters between the city and the county as professionally as any fiduciary would. In my observation, working with the County of Peoria has been to the mutual benefit of each party and I think that is what the citizens expect.”
For more information about Sid Ruckriegel, visit https://sidformayor.com
CHAMA ST. LOUIS
Community activist/President of Peoria Black Chamber of Commerce
Making her first bid for public office, St. Louis told the WCBU forum that she was running “because Peoria needs a mayor who wants to rejuvenate our economy by prioritizing scalable and startup businesses over big chains, and who is focused on fixing systemic issues, not continuing the status quo.”
“We should look into establishing a community safety department similar to the one in Albuquerque, N.M. The cabinet-level department responds to calls on inebriation, homelessness, addiction and mental health with civilian-led resources. Reimagining public safety in this way will reduce crime and take some of the burdens off our overburdened police department while making Peoria a more attractive place to visit, live and do business,” St. Louis told Peoria magazine.
“As a community organizer, I have knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of calls talking with residents about issues that concern them,” she told the magazine.
“To move the city forward, we have to see Peoria not as it is, but as it should be,” St. Louis told the Journal Star.
For more information about Chama St. Louis, visit http://chamastlouis.com
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