Chuck Brown said he would be a unifying force to lead Peoria through troubled times if elected mayor next spring.
Brown is the pastor of Victory Christian Church. Announcing his mayoral run at the Gateway Building on Sunday afternoon, he said he would follow the examples of local leaders like former Peoria Mayor Jim Maloof and civil rights leader John Gwynn.
"To be able to take my experiences, my qualifications, my education, and my passion for this city, and to try to take us through these days. And not just to survive, but to be successful as a city," he said.
The pastor said he worked to increase minority and female participation during the construction of RiverWest to 44%, from an initial goal of 30%. As an energy representative for Ameren Illinois in the northern half of Peoria, Brown said he fielded more than 100 calls a day from his staff of electricians and customer service employees as an example of his management skills.
Brown preached a message of unity, saying he wants to bring people of different races, genders, sexual orientations and political beliefs together to make Peoria a better place to live.
"With all of us working together in unity and harmony, we can make Peoria a great city. And we can put together a vision that would make everybody feel like they are part of this multicultural society," Brown said. "I do have a vision. A vision that every area of our community can look the same. Where you won't know the difference between the suburbs of Dunlap and the South Side of Peoria."
Brown said Peoria's ranking as one of the worst cities in the U.S. for African Americans to live by the online financial publications 24/7 Wall Street is "an indictment of all of us as leaders."
"None of us should sleep knowing some of our citizens are happy, and the other citizens are struggling," he said. "But not only should we be aware of the problem, we should do something about the problem."
He said one goal includes working to see young men trade in "guns and drugs" for "hard hats and tools."
Brown said he won't attack the other candidates running for mayor, including community activist Chama St. Louis, North Valley entrepreneur Andres Diaz, and incumbent Mayor Jim Ardis, whom Brown said he has a "great deal of admiration and respect for" on Sunday.
"We have the capacity to bring our city to a whole new level and become a model community for the rest of the country to follow," he said.
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