Peoria city and county officials looking to formalize racial equity commission

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria city and county leaders in are teaming up to address inequality and injustice in the area.

Following the death of George Floyd, the two governing bodies thought it best to form a commission that advocates for diverse leadership and the advancement of the overlooked people in society.

The group is not permanent yet but a vote in the not so distant future is looking to change that.

Following civil unrest in Peoria and in the nation city and county leaders came together to address racial equity and injustice. Rita Ali city councilwoman said it’s a group made of many different people.

“We came together, community leaders of all different ages and races to talk about the issues,” Ali said.

Ali said the group plans to work with community members and businesses to address things such as affordable housing criminal justice and economic development. As many as 160 people from all over the city and county could take part in the discussions.

“Almost everybody wants training,” Ali said. “They want training in implicit bias, racial justice and equity. They want to have a foundation to infuse it within their own life and in their organization.”

Peoria County administrator Scott Sorrel said a group like this is nothing short of crucial for both the city and county governments.

“The city of Peoria is part of the county,” Sorrel said. “It has an impact on tax rates, it has impact on poverty rates, jobs and access to food.” . “As things impact the city, they impact the county as well both positively and negatively.”

Sorrel said the idea came from similar efforts in other cities such as Washington D.C. and Seattle, Washington. He says they have been successful.

“Both of those communities have been talking about these issues for years and are models of how we can extend that conversation and start to look at solutions for our community,” Sorrel said.

The city and county have yet to approve anything officially but both the chairman and mayor have lobbied for the commission.

The first reading to formalize the commission will take place Tuesday night the Peoria City Council meeting.

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