Peter Kobak has decided to take another shot at joining the Peoria City Council.
Committing to a platform focusing on public safety, social equity and economic empowerment, Kobak on Tuesday announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat.
“I’m committing today to work with my neighbors to address their immediate concerns, and that means potholes, crime and vacant homes,” Kobak said in a virtual news conference launching his campaign. “But I’m also committing to addressing these larger systemic issues over the long haul.”
Saying the 2nd District needs an advocate who will “unite everyone around a bold vision,” Kobak said the city must confront the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession, as well as racial injustice.
“When we confront these challenges, we can create a stronger future for our community,” said Kobak, a recruiter with Peoria Public Schools who previously worked for the city. “To do so, we need visionary leadership rooted in serving everyone's needs, not just those who have power or privilege."
Last year, Kobak fell short in his bid for an at-large seat on the council, placing behind Rita Ali, John Kelly and incumbents Zach Oyler, Beth Jensen and Sid Ruckriegel. But he said he doesn’t view that as a loss.
“We successfully engaged thousands of our neighbors, and many of whom would come to me afterwards and say, ‘That was the first time I cared about a local election,’” he said, adding he has continued to work for the community since then.
Chuck Grayeb has held the 2nd District seat since 2013. Kobak stressed he’s “not running against anyone; I’m running for something,” but pointed to the recent razing of a community garden as one example of a need for new representation.
“If our community is asking for something, or if individuals are filing complaints, then before taking action, I want to make sure I talk to everyone who's involved or who could be impacted and have in the back of my head,” he said. “Not what the law is and what the policy is, but how it will impact people on a daily basis.”
Kobak said he wants to be both transparent and collaborative in solving the city’s problems.
“I think being the only ‘no’ vote in the minority or being a 'no' vote in the minority week after week or year after year means that there’s not enough work being done in between city council meetings,” he said.
Kobak said he would not have supported the decision to make cuts to the fire department to address the city’s budget deficit, saying extraordinary times require extraordinary actions.
“I’m not against borrowing money or dipping into reserves at this time so that we can continue to serve the people of Peoria,” he said. “I want to emphasize: serve the people of Peoria and the problems and challenges that they have, not simply maintain the existing services that we have.
“It’s not about keeping everything the same, because that hasn't worked in the past," he said.
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