PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A 50-year Peoria resident and mental health professional is throwing her hat into the ring for Peoria City Council.

Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young formally announced her candidacy for At-Large Peoria City Councilmember on Tuesday in front of Peoria City Hall.

With 28 years of mental health work under her belt, Gordon-Young currently works as a psychotherapist at the Peoria County Jail. She said her decades of work in mental health and corrections will add a much-needed perspective to the horseshoe.

“We have a large group of people here who are suffering in silence, and we have to have someone at the table on the City Council that understands mental health, and I have unique experience and I can bring that to the table,” she said.

Gordon-Young said her priorities are public safety, economic and job development, infrastructure and mental health.

“We have to look at the school to prison pipeline, and that starts with our youth and connecting with adequate resources and making sure we are all aligned on the same page,” she said.

Gordon-Young is also the founder and CEO of It Takes a Village Peoria, a nonprofit that assists children their development and academic success by providing them free clothing, school supplies, and food.

She will be running against nine other candidates for five At-Large Peoria City Council seats, including current Councilmembers Kiran Velpula, John Kelly and Zachary Oyler. The consolidated election is April 4. There is no primary because an 11th candidate, Shawn Allen, withdrew his application.