On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, Rita Ali announced her candidacy to run for Peoria City Council At-Large. Rita has a long reputation for hard work and producing results which improve the quality of life for citizens of Peoria. Two years ago, she lost her bid for 5th District City Council by One Vote.
Following is Rita’s campaign announcement speech:
Good morning everyone. Thank you all for coming out today. It’s great to see so many people from so many different parts of my life and so many different parts of our city. Let me start with this – I’m Back! And I’m just as committed and more determined than ever!
Those of you, who know me well, know I am a fighter; that I never give up when it comes to something that I care about. Well, I care about Peoria so I’m not going to allow a one-vote loss to discourage me from securing a seat on Peoria’s City Council.
Many of you know that I have lived here in Peoria for most all of my life. I’ve been fortunate to have lived and worked in each of the city’s five districts. My parents moved our family to Peoria from Hannibal, Missouri in the 1960’s. They were attracted to this area because there were plenty of jobs that paid good, livable wages and Caterpillar offered my dad an opportunity to work in its factory.
I’ve dedicated much of my life working to make Peoria a better place to live and work. Now, I’d like to be put in position to have a greater impact in helping Peoria move forward. There is no more critical time than now. So, I’m asking Peoria voters give me this opportunity. I am pleased – and also humbled – to officially announce I am running to represent the people of Peoria as an At-Large member of Peoria’s City Council!
A lot has changed since the 1960’s when my family moved to Peoria. Manufacturing is much more advanced. Technology is much more advanced. And the jobs available today require much greater skills than those of yesterday. Like, the 1960’s, there are plenty of jobs available within our city and our region but unlike the 1960’s, there’s a shortage of individuals with the skills required to assume these jobs. We’ve got a skills mismatch my friends. But it’s a problem we can solve by preparing Peoria residents through proper education and workforce training. I’ve spent most of my professional career doing this work.
If you research the key characteristics that attract people to a city – job opportunities is at the top of the list. If you research the key characteristics that attract new industries to a city – a skilled workforce is at the top of the list. These key characteristics are vital to Peoria’s growth and development. I will bring to your City Council, a skillset and proven experience in workforce and talent development. I will bring my experience and knowledge in job creation and economic development. This is why I’m running. This is why I’m ready.
Peoria is rich in diversity in its many dimensions. We need city leaders with cultural competence, those who understand poverty and disparity, and have an appreciation for the beauty of difference. These are my values; my areas of expertise, my passion. With this focus, I will work to unite and grow Peoria.
In addition to working in education and training, I’ve had years of private sector experience. I’ve leveraged public-private partnerships to build economic momentum. One example is my work with Advanced Information Services (AIS) where we collaborated with ISU for training and created dozens of Computer Programmer jobs.
My platform will focus on five key areas: economic and job development, property taxes, neighborhood safety, education, and diversity.
- My first and primary objective will be expanding Peoria’s economic base which will lead to increased revenue and job creation. If Des Moines, Iowa can do it, Peoria can too. But it takes the right strategies and the right leadership to get it done. We’ve got to connect business and education in ways we’ve never done before to provide opportunities we’ve never had before. And it starts with electing somebody you’ve never elected before.
- My second area of focus is property taxes. As a homeowner, I’m just as frustrated as you seeing my property taxes continue to rise. If we continue to increase property taxes as a means to fix the budget, we will run more good people out of our city and have even greater difficulty attracting new residents. We need smarter financing, moving away from overtaxing homeowners. I believe a public-private solution, both short-term and long-term, is the best way to address the city’s budget crisis.
- The third area is neighborhood safety. My lifelong experience working with law enforcement and people in our community has uniquely prepared me to work cross-functionally with all stakeholders to reduce crime and its footprint in all of our neighborhoods.
The fourth area near and dear to my heart is education. Education makes the economy thrive. And most jobs today require some level of education or training beyond high school. We need more of these programs now and I want to make them real for every person who desires the opportunity. Apprenticeship models work – we know that from the trades. Apprenticeship models have been proven to work in many industries. I want to see more of this in Peoria. If living in Peoria has taught me anything, I know combining education with hard work and dedication is exactly how an area thrives.
The fifth and final area is diversity. Until we begin to fully embrace the diversity within our city, we will continue to experience great disparity and disconnect amongst our citizens. Embracing our diversity means addressing root cause issues of poverty, breaking down racial and ethnic barriers, supporting our senior citizens and those with physical and mental challenges, and building character among our youth. These are the values of a strong city. This can be accomplished in our city through collaboration and commitment.
So, those five key areas: Economic and Job Development, Property Taxes, Neighborhood Safety, Education and Diversity make up my primary platform.
In closing, I want you to remember this: I will advocate for Peoria and work fearlessly, in partnership with key stakeholders, to make Our City one of the best places to call home in Illinois – and eventually the Midwest. I’ve worked for decades on the outside of city government. I’m ready to represent you on the inside of city government. Thank you for your support. Vote for me — Rita Ali.