Rita Ali

Mayor | Peoria, IL

Rita AliTell us about your background. What are the experiences, including education, that make up the person you currently are?

I have been employed in the area of Workforce Development and Diversity for more than 25 years. My work has involved helping to lift people out of poverty, improve their lives and opportunities, and better understand and support one another as human beings.

What was your trigger moment and why this specific office?

I first ran for Peoria City Council to have a voice at the table. I had worked for so long behind the scenes. I ran for Mayor of Peoria to have a greater impact on positive change for my city.

What made you feel qualified to run for office?

I have years of experience in community development, education and workforce development, and change management. My combination of education and experience, combined with strong passion and prior successes in organizational growth made me feel ready.

Do you work full-time or part-time?


Most people don’t know what their elected official does on a daily basis. What’s a typical day looking like for you?

I take and return many phone calls on a daily basis. My days are very busy with meetings – everyone wants to get on the mayor’s calendar. I participate in economic and community development planning meetings, attend ribbon cuttings, present proclamations, send letters and cards, participate in media events and interviews, brainstorm new ideas and strategies, review budgets, read and sign documents, read up on current events, speak to many groups and audiences, take photos with people, host visitors, collaborate, trouble-shoot problems, appoints to commissions, and Pray! Every day is different.

Additionally, they might not know what their elected official is responsible for. What is your role in comparison to other elected offices on your level?

The mayor is the lead official and official spokesperson for the city. She works with a team of city council members to develop policies that support the city. She engages the community, promotes the city, recruits business, and assures public safety measures are in place. My authority is strictly local to the city.

What do you think people would be surprised to know someone in your position does?

People are always surprised to see me drop off my granddaughter at school. Although extremely busy, I still do many of the same things that I did before (although there’s less time for cooking and housework).

What are 3-5 skills needed to be successful in the elected office you served in/are currently serving in?

Effective Communication and Listening Skills, Strong Public Relations and People Skills, and Ability to Trouble-Shoot and Mediate Problems.

What’s the best part about serving in elected office?

The best part is making a positive difference in people’s lives; bringing about needed change; empowering and valuing people.

What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of while in office?

Creating a Safety Network (S-NET) to connect programs, groups, and organizations that address issues of violence in the community. While still under development, it is a structure and system for information sharing, community response, and collective impact to protect and support citizens.

In terms of finances, how much money did you have to raise for your campaign?

We raised about $250,000.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s thinking about running for the position you serve/have served in their community?

Make sure you’re ready!