Southside native announces candidacy for city council

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)–A Peoria south-side native is entering his name in the race for Peoria’s city council.

On Saturday, Aaron Chess announced he is putting his name in the running for Peoria’s City Council First District. The first district represents much of the south-side of town, which Chess is a product of.

Chess telling a crowd of media members and supporters he has four main goals if elected to the council. His first, is fill the food desert in the town with locally owned, grocery stores, owned 100% by community members.

“That ties back to my Buy Back the Block initiative in which we revitalize our own businesses that are no longer in use. We have men and women who are taking the courses for trades in vocational training and we get them to go into these buildings and help turn them into mom and pop shops,” Chess said.

Chess said he wants to start with locally owned stores to ensure that the money stays within the community.

“We gotta support our local businesses. We have a lot of men and women that have business endeavors; but have 100% Black, local businesses before we bring in another chain store to help ensure that the money stays into our community,” Chess said.

Another goal of Chess’ is to reinvest into infrastructure. Chess holding his speech Saturday in front of the old Harrison Primary School. Chess says he will work to demolish or rebuild vacant buildings that currently pose a risk to community members’ health.

“If we tear it down, we’ll build it back up. we either put a community garden or we put community centers or homes to ensure that this space is being used properly and not just a place for vacant buildings to come and rodents to run in and out.”

Chess also told the crowd his goal is to improve community relations among the police and residents. He proposes a residency program in which officers would live within the neighborhoods the patrol. He hopes a program like this would build trust among the Peoria Police Department.

“That’s one of my proposals as a councilman, is to work alongside with our current council members to come up with a solution under proposal so far, in the next coming years for our future law enforcement officers that want to work in Peoria to have that residency requirement,” Chess said.

Chess also hopes to usher in more youth programs to keep youth off the streets and wants to work with the local Boys and Girls Club as well as Neighborhood House to re-build the image of Peoria’s first district. He says the south-side has been neglected by current leadership and hopes to make up for what he says is years worth of poor leadership.

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