At-Large City Council Member, Rita Ali, announced her candidacy for Mayor of Peoria on Tuesday, September 1st at a press conference held at her home. Following is her speech in its entirety:
Good morning everyone. I’m Rita Ali, an At-Large member of Peoria City Council and life-long resident and public servant of Peoria. I want to thank members of the media for coming out this morning. Also, thanks to my wonderful neighbors who have joined me in a socially distant manner during these very unusual times. And finally, thanks to my family members that are here with me – my girls, and especially my dear mother Nora. Thank you, Mom.
I’m speaking to you today from my home as we wade our way through a global pandemic, civil unrest, and a time when many individuals are experiencing personal hardships.
Over the past several months, there have been a great many local calls for me to run for mayor. Considering my big job as Vice President of Workforce and Diversity at Illinois Central College, I avoided those requests. I’m realistic enough to admit that I cannot effectively do both of these jobs on a full-time basis. NO ONE CAN! And although the job of Peoria mayor is classified as part-time, Peoria deserves more than that.
I compared the two positions. I asked myself where I could have the greatest impact. And I determined I could have greater impact as mayor. Soon after, I had a new awareness that helped me to move to yes.
When elected, I will retire early from my wonderful Vice-President job at ICC and commit myself full time to lifting Peoria. I’m running for Mayor, and I will be on the primary ballot in February 2021.
In 1835, Peoria was established as a Village. The Village of Peoria had six presidents over the course of 10 years. In 1845, Peoria became incorporated as a city. The city of Peoria has had 46 mayors over the course of 175 years. In a total of 185 years, almost two centuries, the 52 village presidents and mayors of Peoria have all been white men. Some have been great leaders who did great things, and some have been, well, not so great.
I’m ready to show little girls and young women, the fathers of daughters, and all residents of this city, that a woman can LEAD Peoria and that a person of color can LIFT Peoria.
I am proposing a new vision for our city. Vision has always been a cornerstone of my leadership. A city that returns to vibrancy through collective impact – a shared vision for change. Where hundreds of key stakeholders – business and community leaders, and everyday people, work together to assemble a new strategic plan for Peoria. I want greater public participation in determining what Peoria should look like in the near and distant future.
I imagine a city that attracts new business because it invests in a more educated and skilled workforce. One that grows its population through expanded homeownership, safer neighborhoods, and broader transportation systems like Amtrak passenger rail.
I imagine a city that repurposes empty lots and closed store fronts and gives people no reason to cross a bridge to buy necessities like food, clothing, or other products. A city that values ALL its people and is not defined by its disparities.
I am ready to lead us on this journey to return Peoria to the thriving city where I grew up. I won’t review all of my qualifications and accomplishments – you can find these on my website at ritaali.com. But my experience leading large-scale government agencies, private sector business, and higher education institutions, combined with decades of community development work, is my foundation for leadership. Experienced leadership is always critical, especially for a city that needs change.
My platform focuses on five key areas: economic development and jobs, population growth, neighborhood safety, education, and equity. Equity is about leaving no one behind and assuring opportunity for everyone. It’s about closing gaps and making us stronger as a whole. As a woman and person of color, I have a unique perspective in this area. You can learn more about my platform at ritaali.com.
I have seen the academic side, the governmental side, the business side, and the citizen side of Peoria. In my service on the City Council, I’ve been exposed to the complex problems and needs of Peoria and its citizens. Our city requires full-time leadership to bring about change.
I have continued to listen to the people of Peoria, and I have heard what they want.
The people of Peoria want safe neighborhoods. They want a decent education for their family and secure jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage. They want thriving businesses and great places to interact with one another.
The people want a FULL TIME MAYOR FOR ALL THE PEOPLE. I will give the people what they want. Thank you for joining me today.
To date: other candidates running for Mayor of Peoria are Chama St. Louis, Chuck Brown, Couri Thomas, and Andres Diaz.