New Normal Initiative

Change Peoria is excited to announce the New Normal Initiative (NNI) campaign’s launch to increase Peoria’s voter participation. Chama St. Louis is the Campaign Director for the New Normal Initiative. The campaign’s mission is to increase voter participation through transformational movement-building to support public office candidates who challenge the status quo.

 

While voter registration in Peoria is high, with ~89% of voting-age residents registered to vote, we recognize that voter turnout is meager, especially in local elections. Turnout in local municipal elections is ~10-16% of registered voters. Low voter turnout means as few as 1 in 10 registered voters make decisions for the whole city. Even fewer voters remain engaged in the local political process between elections.

Chama St. Louis is a talented and experienced community organizer and is perfect to lead this campaign. Before running for public office, Chama successfully increased voter participation in the Fall 2018 election. She led a team that knocked on over 12,200 doors in 7 weeks, increasing voter participation by 26% in historically low turnout areas. Her experience running for public office confirmed for her voter engagement should be ongoing, not just candidates asking for votes without a real commitment to improving people’s lives.

“The lack of voter participation and engagement in the local political process is unacceptable,” said Chama St. Louis. “Residents need to be engaged year-round, not just at election time. Many voices, particularly Black, Brown, working-class, low-income, and young people, are going unheard and are being left out and left behind. We can see that impact through a declining population, high poverty and unemployment rates, poor health and educational outcomes, and racial, criminal, and environmental justice issues. To undo these harms, we need more people engaged in the political process and fully participating in our democracy. By increasing voter participation in Peoria, we can elect public office candidates to challenge this status quo.”

Transformational movements are about relationships and meaningful engagement to connect us with ourselves, each other, and the whole community instead of merely transactional. When we understand one another and are in relationship together, we can rethink our structures, systems, the way we live, and even who we are. We will engage with residents by meeting them where they are, both their geography and their current mindset, to build the transformational movement needed to increase voter participation. Through conversation, training, and understanding, we will encourage and inspire our neighbors to use their voice, use their vote and bring A New Normal to Peoria.