Pro-Peoria, First and Foremost

The quality of government in our democracy begins at the local level.
by Mayor Jim Ardis, City of Peoria

Congratulations to publisher Jan Wright, editor-in-chief Jonathan Wright, and the rest of staff on this first issue of Peoria Magazine. As iBi completes a remarkable, almost-30-year run and evolves into this new publication, we are indebted to their unwavering pro-business and pro-Peoria focus and support. The City of Peoria and other local governmental bodies have been well served by its quality, substance, and service as a forum for sensible and reasonable discussion of issues impacting our common future.

Continuing with this “Pro-Peoria” theme, I’d like to congratulate the winners of the April 2nd general election for Peoria City Council. Perhaps many of you were disappointed, as I was, with the low (10.7%) turnout in the February primary election. I trust the general election was a bit better.

As I write this column, I do not know who the five at-large Council members will be. But to those elected, it is my privilege to offer a few observations on our responsibilities as the governing board for the City of Peoria:

  • Accept the fact that change is an ongoing phenomenon in our world of local government. Every Council meeting presents challenges and opportunities to deal with the constantly-changing face, fabric and soul of our city. Dealing with change in an open and responsible manner ultimately defines the sincerity and effectiveness of our leadership.
  • Always strive to avoid complaint and criticism. Instead, offer insight and ideas for correcting deficiencies in services and disappointments in social/cultural and personal relationships, as well as constructive, practical solutions to ongoing budget/revenue challenges.
  • Never forget that we work for the people of this great community. We serve in our public office not to tell our citizens how to live, but to enhance their ability to live successfully in a secure, just, affordable, promising and compassionate community.
  • Communicate with fellow Council members and our administrative team in a regular, collaborative and trustful manner. Council meetings are not the place for hidden agendas or “gotcha” surprises. They are for conducting the citizens’ municipal business affairs in a transparent, legal, dignified and honorable manner.
  • Keep in mind the privilege it is to serve on the Council. Once again I want to thank my friend Eric Turner for his 24 years of effective, responsible Council membership and public service. Eric had a great career with Caterpillar and a wonderful run as a top-notch Council member. He never forgot that this is indeed “home.”

I firmly believe that the quality of government in our democracy begins at the local level. That is why I am honored to serve in my fourth term as mayor. Those of us on the Council live with our decisions. We are accessible. We make mistakes and do our best to correct them. We are not removed by hundreds or thousands of miles from our constituents. We serve because, first and foremost, we are “Pro-Peoria”!

Best wishes to Peoria Magazine as it carries on the outstanding tradition begun in 1989 by the late David and Jan Wright. God bless our community and our continuing dedication to be the best we can be for all who call Peoria home. PM

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