PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Peoria City Council officially adds its tenth member to the council.

During Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Dr. Kieran Velpula took the oath of office and formally filled the previously vacant At-Large council seat left by, now mayor, Dr. Rita Ali.

“I am happy, I am excited, I am nervous, and I feel accountable and responsible,” Dr. Velpula said.

Velpula said out of the original 26 candidates who applied for the position, he’s grateful he made the cut. He said this feat wouldn’t be possible without the help of those who supported him.

“I’m very thankful to the community for blessing our family and for believing in me and trusting in me,” Dr. Velpula said.

The newest council member is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria in the Departments of Cancer Biology and Pharmacology.

“In my years as a councilman I don’t believe we’ve had a medical doctor who has done what Dr. Velpula has done,” Chuck Grayeb, second district councilman, said.

Councilman Grayeb said having never seen anyone with Dr. Velpula’s background on the council before, he believes he’ll be an added benefit to push Peoria into the future.

“He certainly understands the importance of the medical community and medical advances to our total economy. Not only our Peoria city economy but our regional economy,” Grayeb said. “I look forward to working with him and I think my colleagues do as well.”

Velpula said he’s going to follow through with his running points and plans to use his knowledge and skills to help transform the city into a biotechnology hub.

“I’ll stick with my idea of building a biotech corridor into Peoria, building a biotech hub, and integrate the biotech with the powerful medical health system,” Velpula said.