(From 25 News)–Economics, education, police reform, and social justice were at the forefront of discussion Wednesday night at a first of its kind candidate forum at the East Bluff Community Center as 15 candidates compete for five open seats for Peoria City Council.
As over 100 people gathered to hear from candidates for Peoria city council, organized by the Black Justice Project, issues surrounding racial equality in Peoria took center stage.
“Government has played an active role in discriminating against people of color and if we want to make progress and deal with the way our city is segregated and the way races don’t have equity right now we need to figure out what role the government is going to play in creating a better future for all races.” said Peter Koback, one of the candidates for city council.
One of the hot button issues being crime … many candidates expressed concerns how crime in the river city has more underlying factors than disparities between the public and police.
“We know crime is correlated with your income your education it’s correlated if you are employed or unemployed so we gotta really look at those issues.” said Andre Allen, another one of the candidates for city council.
Economic development specifically on the South Side and East Bluff neighborhoods brought up many revitalization plans from candidates.
“We need to train our young youth that are looking for jobs and our men and women that are unemployed. Give them an opportunity to train and get the skills, partnering with local unions to develop skills that help renovate our buildings on the south side. Not only does that beautify our community but it’s putting people back to work.” said Aaron Chess, a candidate for city council.
Many candidates expressing the importance of improving these areas in Peoria to keep residents from leaving the River City.
“We gotta revitalize that make it more pleasing to the eye once we do that and once we get the communities involved they gotta have enthusiasm and they also have to trust those in local governments.” said candidate Kevin Sibley
But many candidates say for trust to be earned … representation is vital at the city level.
“You have that representation in a critical position such as city council people will feel more engaged.” said Andre Allen.
The 15 candidates all spoke at the meeting. They include:
Beth Akeson, Beth Jensen, Sid Ruckriegel, Zach Oyler, Rita Ali, John Kelly, Peter Kobak, Janice Louise Lindsay, Branden Martin, Aaron Chess, Jr., Kevin Sibley, James Golden, Mary Neil Hayes, Andre Allen, and Roberta English.