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Peoria Mayor-Elect Rita Ali Asks Legislators Not To Leave Communities Behind In Redistricting

Peoria Mayor-elect Rita Ali says she wants communities to be able to continue advocating for their needs as the redistricting process continues. She asked legislators not to dilute people's voices or votes.

Peoria's mayor-elect is asking for communities with common interests not to be split up in the redistricting process.

Rita Ali emphasized the area's diversity and strong leadership as she spoke to state senators in a virtual hearing on redistricting for Peoria, Tazewell, and McLean counties. She said she doesn't want the area's people of color to be left behind.

"We have to continue to give voice to these communities that have these gaps in terms of resources," said Ali. "Those inequities have to be addressed."

She said that's especially the case for the city's South Side. The Economic Innovation Group's Distressed Communities Index indicates the 61605 zip code is one of the most distressed in the nation.

"There's a lot of work to be done in terms of serving that community, but there's been disinvestment in that community for decades," said Ali. "That has to change."

Ali said she wants communities to be able to keep advocating for their needs.

"It is critically important, as you contemplate redistricting, that you don't unintentionally divide communities that share common natural and cultural interests," said Ali. "Do not dilute their voice, do not dilute their vote."

Ali asked legislators to continue following the Voting Rights Act. She said the area's greatest asset is its people, and that Peoria citizens need to "retain a strong voice and a basis for collective impact."

Ali is set to be sworn into office next Tuesday.

Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.