How long have you been a council member?
I was elected to the council in 1991 as an at-large city councilman. Since then I’ve been elected to the fourth district for three terms.
Who or what inspired your desire to seek office?
Growing up in Peoria, I started attending council meetings when I was in high school. The first time I considered running for the council was soon after I was married. I wanted to make Peoria a great place to live—just like when I grew up here. Though it isn’t always easy, I continually try to make it a better place to live.
What’s been the most challenging issue you’ve faced as a Peoria City Council member?
The challenges never end, and I’ve always enjoyed trying to solve problems we face every day as a council. The one challenge that never gets fully solved is the budget. We try to deliver the best service to our citizens at the lowest cost possible. Budget issues are some of the toughest decisions we have to make each year.
What’s your “pet issue”?
I always put the basic services first—public safety is essential and always needs to be addressed first and foremost. The next problem is storm drains; most of my district was developed outside of the city and annexed into it, so we have many areas that need storm drains, and this should be addressed. The last big pet issue I have as a councilman for the fourth district is the need for more sidewalks.
Is there a common misperception about you or council members in general that you’d like to clear up?
I’ve been on the council for more than 13 years and have served with four mayors and 24 different council members. I’ve become friends with each one and have learned something from all of them.
What issue are you looking forward to tackling soon as a council member?
It’s the same issue we have to face every year: how to deliver the best service to the citizens of Peoria at the least cost to them. I’m very happy Mayor Ardis has decided to look at this as early as possible so we can have time to consider each issue and weigh which ones are important to us as a council.
What are the keys to a successful future for Peoria? How can the council help?
Communication is the key to success. We as a city council must open the lines of communication between government bodies and build trust between each body. This doesn’t mean we have to agree with each other, but at least start a dialogue so a compromise can be reached for the betterment of the public. We’re the government, and it’s our job to serve the public.
What advice do you have for members of the public who want to be part of city decisions?
Jump in the water! There are plenty of issues and plenty of unsolved problems. All you have to do is find one in which you have a great interest, find a group that has the same interest, join them, and see where the journey takes you.
What’s surprised you the most since becoming an elected official?
A very pleasant surprise is that Peoria is blessed with so many great people willing to help in so many different ways. IBI