Q&A: 1st District Candidate Aaron Chess on Why He Walked Away From Democratic Party

Jan 6, 2021

Despite Peoria City Council positions being non-partisan, historical context coupled with nuanced rhetoric can sometimes be a clear giveaway to a candidate's party allegiance.

WCBU's Demarcus Hamilton sat down with 1st District city council candidate Aaron Chess, after he received backlash from his would-be constituents for attending a Trump rally; as his political position and intentions are called into question.

Aaron Chess: If it was any sitting president, I would have took it. But just because it was Trump, I couldn't pass up this opportunity, you know, I've always wanted to see a sitting president. Not your everyday person can say, 'I've seen the president of the United States.' Despite what people think of him, despite his policies, it was a great time to see, you know, a U.S. president.

Demarcus Hamilton: What were your initial thoughts? When you read the comments? You posted that you're waiting on POTUS to land? And then obviously, you posted the pictures afterwards? You put your phone back in your pocket, you head back to Peoria, you know, halfway back to Peoria, you open your phone? You look at the comments. What was going through your mind when you read the comments?

AC: So I'm like, I'm getting messages, I'm getting comments, I'm getting phone calls, called all type of names. I'm getting calls. I'm getting asked why did you go? How can you support racism? How can you? How can you go to support a man that, you know, don't care about your lives? How can you, you know, support this and that.

And I knew it was gonna get even worse from that. I've received lots of messages, hateful messages. But that's the thing about politics, especially in my proximity as a community leader, I'm going to receive backlash for things that I do. And like I said,  it's something that the people, especially in the district that I'm trying to represent, that I'm fighting to represent, wasn't fond of, and to the people in my district, in the Black community that is watching.

With me going there wasn't no type of disrespect. It was just me, going there as a, not as a candidate, but as an American citizen to see, you know, the president of the United States in action, in his form, and seeing what did he have to talk about? And if it was a Joe Biden rally, again, I would have went, but like I said, because it was the the closest rally nearby, I took the opportunity I went for.

DH: Some would say, you party-hopped, you know, you come across as a Democrat for the at-large council seat. And then there's a picture with Chuck Weaver, who's a Republican. What do you say to those people that may be confused as to what side you stand on when it comes to your views and what you want to put in the 1st District or how you want to lead them?

AC: It's okay to see what both sides have to say. I didn't agree with what the Democrats have been doing lately. And like I mentioned in my post, I walked away from the Democratic Party. I became independent. I met with, like I said, sat down with Sen. Weaver. I became good friends with him. He's taking me under his wing, become a mentor. And not just in the politics, but a mentor of how to be a leader.

DH: Do you think that the the the foundation of the Democratic Party is beginning to crack when it comes to Black people?

AC: Oh, yeah, I definitely see. I that was something before I walked away from the party that I heard. What are you know, the Democrats doing for Black Americans? What are they doing for Hispanics, and just a lot of that.

And for me, I feel like a third party option will be an option for, you know, Black Americans to go to or curating their own party because they're fed up. They're fed up with both parties. These leaders are out of touch with everyday people. We got more we got millionaires, billionaires running for office, we have celebrities running for office, and it's taken away from the main point of politics of the common people in the Commonwealth, to represent the people of the United States.

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