Leatherneck runs for Peoria City Council Member

Marc Ramirez, News editor

Western Illinois University junior Aaron Chess decided on Nov. 14 that he wanted to create change in the city of Peoria, Ill. and run for City Councilman-at-Large.

“My community is faced with a $6 million deficit, failing economy and a horrible education system,” Chess said. “I just felt as if this was an opportunity for me to take to help bring change to my city.”

Chess is currently a junior studying political science with an emphasis in Pre-Law. Growing up in Peoria, he saw first hand the everyday struggles people face and because of seeing this, he believes he has the power and capability to help reshape the city into a place where the voices of all citizens can be heard.

“Invest in the youth” is Chess’s main goal and running platform. He hopes to be able to implement programs to help keep children involved in a more positive way, steering them away from the streets. He also hopes to implement trade and vocational programs for students who don’t see college in their future.

“I’ve seen from first hand experience from friends who didn’t go to college end up getting stuck selling drugs or working at a minimum wage job,” Chess said. “I feel like they would have been able to contribute more to society if they had previously gotten the opportunity to be able to work in fields like construction, plumbing or mechanics.”

By giving the students this opportunity beforehand, Chess wishes to better the retention and graduation rates of students as well as decrease crime in the city, as students will have something to strive towards which can create a better life for themselves.

Chess also wishes to target the 37 percent unemployment rate among African Americans in Peoria, which is 10.8 percent more than the national average for African Americans. This is also 27.8 percent more than the Caucasian unemployment rate in Peoria. He wishes to tackle this issue by potentially implementing an indoor farming initiative.

“By implementing indoor farming, the city would be able to combat the food desert that is consuming the south and east sides of Peoria,” Chess said. “It would also bring in over 43 million jobs, $1.9 trillion dollars in wages, $894.13 billion in total taxes and more.”

Chess stressed that one of the biggest deficits in Peoria is jobs and by starting this program it gives citizens the opportunity to flourish. This could possibly go hand-in-hand with his trade and vocational program idea, giving not only adults in the community a chance to work but also provides the same opportunity to those young adults who choose a different path for themselves besides attending college or a university.

Although he has physical plans for the city, he also wishes to create more than just that. Chess hopes to be able to restore faith and trust back into the hearts of Peorians who may have lost it within the past years.

“Some citizens have given up on elected officials, so I hope to bring more transparency and an honest government to those who live around me,” Chess said.

For more information on Chess’s plans for Peoria, visit Aaron Chess for At-Large City Council Member 2019 on Facebook and Twitter. People can also stay in touch and voice their thoughts at aaronchesssocialcampaign@ gmail.com or by phone at 309-922-6405. People can also show their support by using the #ChessWeCan.