PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Peoria’s new mayor Dr. Rita Ali is envisioning a bright future for the city.
The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce held an outdoor event Wednesday called “The Future of Peoria: An Evening with Mayor Rita Ali.”
Community members and elected officials mingled inside of Dozer Park before hearing from the city’s first new mayor in 16 years.
Joshua Gunn, the president and CEO of the PACC, spoke on the significance of Ali’s election as well as his own role as the Chamber of Commerce’s president.
Gunn said although people are told from a young age that anything is possible, it’s always reassuring to see it for themselves, especially for minorities.
“Representation matters and representation makes a huge difference,” Gunn said.
Once Mayor Ali reached the podium she spoke on the history of the city. She briefly recapped the past, the present, and eventually her vision for the city’s future.
Ali said she going forward she wants to focus on population and revenue growth, transforming the city’s most distressed areas, and finally putting Peoria on a path to be a smart city.
She said transitioning into a smart city could result in an increase in employment rates, water consumption, and a reduction in living expenses, disease rates, and crime.
“ABI Research predicts an estimated $5 trillion per year could be saved by governments, enterprises, and citizens throughout an aggregated 75 smart cities by 2022,” Ali said. “But the research also points out that cities will first have to invest significantly in technology projects.”
She said achieving these goals will be a collaborative effect that she wants the public to have a say in.
“We want a lot of citizen input on these strategies,” Ali said. “Peoria’s greatest asset and I’ve said over and over is our people and I want to everyone a voice in Peoria’s future.”