Entrepreneur and urban farmer Andres Diaz announced his candidacy for Peoria mayor Saturday at the North Valley Farmers Market he founded.
Diaz operates both the Urban Acres farm and Springboard Market in the North Valley neighborhood where he grew up and lives today. He also works at Caterpillar.
"We need to bring new blood, new life, and new ideas to the council more often. At the end of this mayor's term, he will have been mayor for 16 [years], and on the council for over 20. It's time for change," Diaz said.
A graduate of Woodruff High School and Bradley University, Diaz said he wants to cut red tape and make it easier for people to do business.
Diaz said he faced racism at City Hall in his efforts to establish a new business in the North Valley, and found it difficult to gain city leadership's attention. He said the Community Development Department and City Council put multiple barriers in his path as he tried to begin his work in the North Valley food desert.
"I talked to other business owners, and they see some of the same obstacles. I felt compelled, I gotta change this," Diaz said. "Whether it's for a person who's black, brown, or white, if our city administration and our city leadership isn't listening and isn't responsive, I can understand why we're not growing."
Diaz said public services, public safety, investing in small businesses, and streamlining processes would be among his city budget priorities. He said he'd seek to have more transparent conversations around the horseshoe, and be a more accessible mayor.
Diaz said it's a problem that many public safety employees live outside the city of Peoria, but stopped short of supporting a residency requirement.
"I love the resident officer program, but why don't we have more officers just wanting to reside in Peoria? And we need to find out and be honest with ourselves, and address those issues," Diaz said. "Whether it's the school system that they complain about, or that they don't want to police where they live. I would challenge all of them, and we have to, if we're going to change the direction of the city."
He said he doesn't support defunding the police, but believes the reform conversation changes if the police are from and of the community.
If elected, Diaz said he wouldn't serve more than two terms.
The election is next year.
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