Peoria City Council announces final candidates for vacant at-large seat

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria City Council on Wednesday announced the selection of three final candidates vying for the At-Large City Council seat vacated by now-Mayor Dr. Rita Ali, out of a pool of 26 applicants.

The candidates are architect James Kemper, marketing and sales executive Kim Armstrong and cancer researcher and professor Dr. Kiran Velpula.

Kemper ran for the 2nd District seat in the 2021 municipal election, and jumped at the chance for the at-large seat.

“I had a heck of a lot of fun running for that position. During that process I got to know a lot of people, I got to engage with the community of Peoria, and I feel that through that and deep listening I got to know what was important to them,” he said.

Kemper, principal architect at Demonica Kemper Architects, said those deep listening skills are just what the Peoria City Council needs.

“I believe that is a quality I have honed over the years, and I believe it would be valuable to the citizens of Peoria,” he said.

Armstrong, vice president of marketing and institutional advancement at Illinois Central College, said she was thrilled when she received the phone call that she made it to the top three.

“Appreciative that the other members of the council found my skill set, my background, and my experience worthy of further discussion,” she said.

Armstrong, a long-time volunteer at the Peoria Art Guild, said she is passionate about the community and hopes to get more people engaged in the city they call home.

“We need more people to be the Peoria cheerleaders, and that’s what I’m hoping to invoke,” she said.

Dr. Velpula, assistant professor in cancer biology and pharmacology, pediatrics and
neurosurgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, was not immediately available for an interview.

In his application for the position, Dr. Velpula wrote that his experience in healthcare sector, “public‐grant writing experience, innate drive to support others seeking success, and [his] broad‐based community leadership” have prepared him for the role.

On June 8, all three candidates will meet with the City Council for closed-door interviews. The deadline to fill the seat is July 3.

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