PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Recently elected to the Peoria City Council, Andre Allen is ready to hit the ground running.
QUESTION: What are your primary goals as the newly-elected fourth district coucilman?
“In my first hundred days, I’m using the two ears I was born with,” Allen said. “I’m listening to my constituents within the district. I’m using my two eyes and reading, researching. After that, I’ll do a little talking. I’ve been meeting with various neighborhood associations, whether virtual or in-person. I’m studying my council packet that I get, reading up on the different challenges that our City is facing, and currently our District as well.”
QUESTION: When it comes to challenges the district may face, what are the issues you plan to tackle?
“District 4 is the economic driver of our City. When you think of the small and large businesses that are featured within District 4… Westlake Shopping Center, Northwoods Mall, Glen Lake Shopping for example. Although we have great shopping in District 4, we can’t get complacent. There’s a lot of turnover in our small businesses.”
Allen said he wants to start a “Small Business Saturday” initative.
“One Saturday each month, I’m going to partner with various property owners and let people who are looking to pivot to open their small business, but they don’t know how to take that next step, they can come in and see one of our vacant properties in the district,” Allen said.
QUESTION: You’ve been meeting with constituents since you were elected, but for any of our viewers who haven’t gotten to meet you yet, tell us a little more about what you do outside of being a city councilman.
“I’m originally from Peoria, graduated from Peoria Public Schools. Proud graduate of Richwoods High School class of 2007. Went to Illinois Central College for two years, transferred to Eastern Illinois University where I got both my bachelors and masters degree. After that, I started my career in higher education,” Allen said. “I’ve worked at Eastern Illinois as an academic advisor, Illinois State as an academic advisor, now I’m at Methodist College. I’ve been there in various roles, including Director of Student Affairs, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I’m the liasion between students and administration at the college, being their true advocate.”
Allen said he thinks this has prepared him for politics.
“I’m used to working with various stakeholders. From faculty, staff, students, alumni. Solving their issues, listening, enforcing policy, creating policy, and amending policy when necessary,” Allen said.
QUESTION: Take us four years down the road. What do you hope that you and the entire council accomplish in that time?
“We have some challenges in front of us. As someone said, this isn’t a sexy time to be in politics. But for me, it’s personal being from Peoria. It’s necessary we face those challenges. Right now, it’s no secret we have to get our financial house in order. We are getting some federal funds coming. We’ll be having a policy session to see where those funds are earmarked and ensure they’re going to the proper places and filling the holes COVID has created this year.”
Allen said the city council has to address the high property taxes in the city.
“Peoria has some of the highest property taxes in the state. So how do we get the vacant lots and homes back on the property tax roll, that way we can provide relief to our residents,” Allen said. “I want the saying “It plays in Peoria,” to be true. I want that entrepreneur in our city to say they can stay and grow their business. And I want that entrepreneur who’s not in Peoria to say, ‘hey, that’s Peoria, Illinois, not Peoria, Arizona, that’s where I want to go.'”
Allen said he wants the city to be a place of entrepreneurship and innovation.
Before Allen left, he wished WMBD/WYZZ’S Mark Welp and his family with some kind words.
“I want to send my prayers to Mark Welp and my family, that’s definitely a tragedy. Prayers to his family,” Allen said.
This interview was conducted live on WMBD This Morning.