What inspired you to run for Peoria mayor?
My decision to run for mayor of Peoria is largely inspired by the friends, faces and experiences I’ve had since making Peoria my home nearly 30 years ago. While studying and preparing to apply for a new franchise opportunity in 1992, my new neighbors were very kind to me. I have not forgotten their kind deeds and the encouraging advice I received. Today, our friendships are stronger than ever.
Over the years, I would help underwrite local neighborhood and school activities as a sponsor. Churches and sporting clubs would soon follow. These experiences provided a chance for me to see Peoria up-close and personal. I also volunteered to improve my neighborhood by being an active member of my residential associations. As a businessman and community member, I volunteered for numerous nonprofit organizations, many of which I served as a board member.
While I was growing my businesses, we celebrated the jobs we created and the teamwork necessary to succeed. I learned that our business’s capacity to do great things is limitless when we align our mission, vision and values. After being appointed to the City Council several years ago, I pledged to listen, learn and stand up for what I believed in.
Since being in public office, I am inspired to fully energize the Office of the Mayor to lead our community into the next decade. We, too, must align our mission, vision and values; and the City Council must work together as a team in order to succeed.
What are your top three issues and why? How do you plan to address these issues?
#1: Getting our household finances in order. Peorians deserve a transparent city government that puts them first. My plan is to lead the City Council toward more austere budgets by reducing whatever discretionary dollars may be available. We should freeze capital expenditures that can be deferred and consider refinancing some debt with more favorable interest rates. The public safety pension problem, however, is likely to be too large to be solved by spending cuts alone. We must expend the efforts to explain the magnitude of the issue to our community and discuss solutions with all options in full view.
#2: Job creation and economic opportunity. My track record of fostering business growth and working with job creators to bring good-paying jobs to Peoria makes me the best candidate to lead Peoria towards greater economic opportunity. To start, we can double our efforts to market our city to investors, families and students. We need to partner with our leading industries to develop plans to entice related industry investment in the region, and develop novel outreach efforts that include digital resources. As mayor, I plan to leverage the dollars we have invested in the downtown, riverfront and the northwest corridor into investment opportunities for growth from existing businesses in our region.
#3: Safer neighborhoods. Keeping our community safe is one of my top priorities. We could begin by studying how we can rebuild our fire stations in more strategic locations, as well as exploring the relocation of some of our police services to the north/northwestern sector of the city. These changes will improve our efficiency and effectiveness of public safety in measurable ways. Deployment improvements would require new capital—perhaps $25 million to $35 million in construction and land acquisition—but it will yield multi-million-dollar savings in cost avoidance. Common-sense solutions like these will not only save taxpayer dollars, but will also make Peoria a safer city in which to raise a family.
What is your vision for Peoria’s future?
My vision is to create a place and space where families and businesses can thrive—one that likeminded Midwestern cities choose to emulate. I envision a growing community with access to success for all, not just the lucky. I want us to be a place where inclusiveness and diversity are not new concepts but an expectation; and I imagine showing measurable accomplishments to validate our success. Our Peoria, One Peoria boasts a size and weight, with an attitude, and a palpable energy for entrepreneurs. Harnessing that spirit to bring continued economic opportunity to our citizens will result in a greater Peoria for all. Growing our population by making us an attractive place for investors, families and students is the future I see for Peoria.
Why are you the best candidate to serve in this position?
I think my experience best matches the qualities needed to be the next mayor of Peoria. We exist at a crossroad today, and Peoria needs to make the right choices going forward. 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.
I am not afraid to ask the questions that need to be asked and answered. Our city’s citizens deserve a transparent government that works hard each and every day for them. Since the start of my tenure as an at-large member of the City Council in 2015, I have worked tirelessly to ensure the City of Peoria works for all of its citizens and puts the decision-making process in full view, where it deserves to be.
I have a record of making tough choices when called on to do so. Common-sense solutions are needed in our city, and I have worked tirelessly to find those solutions, make the necessary decisions, and put our residents first.
Finally, my enthusiasm and love for our city and all the wonderful things Peoria has to offer best defines my candidacy—a mayoral candidate that appreciates the present and places a high value and an eye towards the future.
I have broad support across the community built from the neighborhood association level, serving numerous community nonprofits, and even serving in the board room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. In my experiences, we have always moved the needle in the right direction.
I believe that my experience in leading our city, expertise in growing business, and connection to the community makes me the best candidate to lead our city to a more prosperous future. PM