Lawrence Maushard says he would be the strong advocate Peoria's core neighborhoods need on the city council
East Bluff activist Lawrence Maushard is running for an at-large Peoria City Council seat in the April election, but he said his priority if elected will be strengthening the city's heritage neighborhoods.
"I want to be a representative, a voice, for the people in our core neighborhoods, to direct these monies to where they're needed. It's not out towards (Route) 91 or towards the north part of town," he said. "We have to reinvest back in our downtown, back in the South Side, back in the East Bluff, back in the North Valley and the Center Bluff, because if these places continue to deteriorate...it's already affecting the whole city."
This is Maushard's third run for a council seat. He was removed from the ballot following a petition challenge during his first at-large run, and lost a race for the 3rd District council seat in 2021.
Maushard said the effects of long-term disinvestment are evident in the city's core neighborhoods. His solution is to start by focusing on improving infrastructure. That includes removing blighted houses, fixing crumbling sidewalks, and improving street lighting on dark residential corridors.
"We'll start there, and just to try to get our residential neighborhoods in the core neighborhood back up to some kind of living standard, because they're not there now," he said.
Maushard said the city also needs to address the root causes of some of its larger problems. He said anti-violence efforts should be concentrated in reducing poverty, rather than more policing.
"I want to say that I'm a defund the police candidate. That doesn't mean abolish the police. It means take money out of their budget and put it into community service programs and groups," he said. "You will get results that to filter down to the anti-crime part of it, but you have to address the causes."
That includes giving more money to groups like the East Bluff Community Center, JOLT Harm Reduction, and the Boys and Girls Club. Maushard said he's also an advocate of municipalities providing a universal basic income for people at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Concepts like universal basic income and defunding the police are controversial, but Maushard said he's someone who works to build consensus and get things done, not be a "bomb thrower."
"I'm going to talk in mega ideas and in maximal ideas, of course, but I think you have to go at projects, go at things that we can all get behind," he said, citing a project he worked on with 3rd District Councilman Tim Riggenbach to get speed bumps added to streets in his East Bluff neighborhood.
"The thing is that is going to make me different from other people, the ones the people that exist there now, they're bringing up their projects. But that doesn't involve the people who live in the South Side and the East Bluff, and the North Valley, and the Center Bluff as much as it should," Maushard said. "I'm going to be that balance, to bring it back towards the center."
The general election is April 4, 2023. Nine other candidates are also running for the five at-large council seats. WCBU is reaching out to all ten candidates for interviews.