PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — One of the candidates that made it to the short list to fill Mayor Rita Ali’s former seat on Peoria City Council says he wants to turn the city into a biotechnology hub.

Dr. Kiran Velpula is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria and a cancer researcher who has mentored more than 30 students. He moved to Peoria more than a decade ago.

His vision is to use his healthcare and education background to transform Peoria into a biotechnology hub. Velpula said he wants to give back to the community through the role.

“I wanted to do something for the community because I’m an educator at heart, so I just want to contribute something back to the community that blessed me and my family,” he said.

The Peoria City Council announced Wednesday it had narrowed the list of 26 applicants to three final candidates – Velpula, architect James Kemper and marketing and sales executive Kim Armstrong.

All three candidates are set to meet with the City Council for closed-door interviews next week.

The City Council is expected to make its decision on June 22.