Jim Ardis will not seek a fifth term as Peoria's mayor next spring.
Ardis made the announcement Wednesday morning after months of speculation about his intentions. Ardis said he came to the "difficult decision" after discussing it with his family.
"I've been honored to be able to serve the community for almost 22 years, both as an at-large council member and as mayor," Ardis said. "But at this time, the best decision for our family is that I will not be seeking re-election."
Ardis was first elected mayor in 2005. He's served more consecutive terms than any other mayor in the city's history.
Ardis started a new full-time job as the OSF HealthCare Foundation's strategic philanthropy officer earlier this year, a role he said will allow him to continue to have an impact in the community.
He said the difficulties the city faces with COVID-19 and the resulting budget crunch didn't play a large factor in his decision.
"It's not so much the combination of a lot of these events as, (my) wife and I are empty nesters. We're in our 60s now. We have grandchildren," he said.
He said bowing out may encourage more candidates to enter an already crowded race.
"This will allow some people who may not have entertained a thought of running against a four-term incumbent," Ardis said. "I'm confident that Peoria will have strong leadership going forward as determined by our citizens."
Five candidates already have announced their intentions to run. They include community activist Chama St. Louis, Caterpillar employee and entrepreneur Andres Diaz, Peoria Area Food Bank warehouse manager Couri Thomas, Rev. Chuck Brown of Victory Christian Church, and At-Large City Councilmember Rita Ali.
Ardis said he isn't backing anyone in the race to succeed him at the head of the horseshoe.
"I don't have that plan. I don't know that anybody running necessarily wants my endorsement," he said.
In the meantime, Ardis still has six more months left on his current term. His main priority will be the 2021 budget, he said.
"We need to get this budget done. It's not sexy, and it's not an exciting topic, but it's the most important thing that the council does, is to get a balanced budget finished," he said.
The Peoria City Council plans weekly meetings for the next several meetings to flesh out next year's budget, just as it concludes painful readjustments to the current year's budget made necessary by declining tax revenues from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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