ROCKFORD -- Mid-size Illinois cities are banding together to form an alliance at the state Capitol, hoping to exert more influence in political action in Springfield.
Industrial cities like Rockford, Peoria, Aurora and Danville will lobby for interests more specific to their communities, The Rockford Register Star reported.
"Anytime you go down to Springfield, you're stronger as a group with an aggregate number of people with mayors supporting than you are just trying to go down there as your community all alone," Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said.
Each of these cities already belongs to the Illinois Municipal League, an organization that focuses on legislative issues for communities across the state. Organizers of the new alliance hope to bring attention to 10 to 12 mid-sized Illinois communities that share common ground, though they may not have the same issues across the board.
"We feel like a lot of the cities that are outside of Chicago need to make sure that we're not just lumped together either with the small cities or the biggest city," said Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey. "We've got our own needs that we want to see addressed."
Morrissey said the cities share similar problems in areas of education, poverty, public housing and environmental concerns because they all have backgrounds in industry and manufacturing.
The group hasn't hired a lobbyist yet, but they say they could eventually represent up to 1 million people.
But Ardis is skeptical that they'll make any significant moves this legislative session because it's an election year, saying he only hopes to start discussions with lawmakers.
"We understand this isn't going to be, necessarily, a process that's going to happen overnight," Ardis said. "But everybody has acknowledged that we have to do something and speaking as a unified voice on a lot of these issues is going to give us more recognition."