PEORIA — The local NAACP chapter will kick off an ongoing voter registration, education and participation effort Saturday afternoon with a rally.
"It's just the beginning to get us prepared for 2018 and beyond," said Pastor Marvin Hightower, the organization's president.
Only 11.2 percent of registered voters in 1st District — centered in South Peoria — voted in the spring election, providing room for improvement and demonstrating the need to have more people participate in local elections, Hightower said.
"We want to hit a three-leg stance on this one," he said, emphasizing the need to not only encourage people to register — something Illinois makes relatively easy to do — but to then educate themselves as voters and participate not only in national, presidential elections but also in local ones.
"There's nothing wrong with voting in presidential elections," Hightower said. "But all politics are local, and that's what affects your everyday life, and we want to focus on that in addition to our statewide and national elections."
That includes holding current elected officials accountable for their promises, he emphasized, at the city, county, school district and park district levels.
His message to elected officials: "We are woke, and we're going to stay woke."
The rally starts at 2 p.m. at the Peoria NAACP building, 101 MacArthur Highway.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.