In the last few years we’ve seen more and more average citizens who have seen enough of elected officials mismanage their duties without a sense of accountability to the people they serve. These citizens take it upon themselves to step up and run for office and challenge the incumbent politicians. Sangeetha Rayapati is one of them, and she has decided to run for Mayor of Moline.
Rayapati, a mother of three, professor at Augustana College and President of the Moline-Coal Valley School Board has decided to run for Mayor of Moline “I am in this race to make life in Moline better for everyone” Rayapati told us in an exclusive interview for Hola America.
Who is Sangeetha Rayapati?
Born to an Indian immigrant father and a Swedish-American mother she was raised in Philadelphia, Rayapati always had a sweet spot for the Midwest.
“My heart was always in the Midwest, in Minnesota to be exact, where my mom’s family was,” Rayapati shared. “We hosted my Indian family here and there, but I settled in the Midwest because of those roots.”
This candidate for Moline Mayor went to Valparaiso University in Chicago where she majored in nursing and music. She became a teacher and in 2001 Rayapati and her husband moved to the Quad Cities.
“We settled in Moline after first living in East Moline and have raised our three daughters here,” Rayapati said. “My parents joined us not too long after and we really have put down roots in this community. My mom is very active with World Relief and her church, First Lutheran, in downtown Moline. My kids all attend Moline public schools and are busy with music and sports.”
While serving on the Moline-Coal Valley School Board she adopted a culture of teamwork and goal setting which was the key to oversee improvements in the buildings, support for students and curriculum. This experience helped her notice that the city government could do things differently, she knew there was a better way and that was the moment that she knew she wanted to run for the office.
From leading school board to leading city council
“I decided it was time to offer voters an alternative to what we have.” Rayapati says as is the reason why she is running.
Rayapati believes that her teamwork approach to solve issues is a winning strategy to improve local government and make it work better for the people of the city of Moline.
“I am a better choice because I have proven you can use a collaborative approach, not a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ approach to making improvements. You can value steady and thoughtful decision-making rather than knee-jerk reactions to situations like snow plowing and leaf pick up. You can have respect for workers while still holding them accountable for good work. And you can really coalesce an organization around a mission and vision, rather than sow division and harm the reputation of the organization,” estates as the reasons why Rayapati believes herself to be a better candidate for the job.
She also added that Moline needs to regain the respect of all residents of the Quad Cities and new leadership needs to involve not only influential people, but all residents of Moline in the discussion of a better future for the city.
“I have a proven track record of community engagement through our Community Conversations in the school district, and have already held one Listening Post to show that I want to hear from citizens. We can’t represent everyone if we don’t connect with everyone. As a woman of color, I understand how to see many different people and find our common humanity and I want all of us to have what we need to succeed,” Candidate Rayapati explained.
About the future of Western Illinois University Quad City Campus
Rayapati also voiced her opinion on some local issues including the public fight about the Western Illinois University Quad City Campus. The current local administration indicated that they view WIU as a bad investment. Rayapati disagrees.
“Her (Mayor Acri) decisions show a lack of attention to the desires of the community, a lack of attention to the variables that have impacted higher education and led to the issues WIU is grappling with in terms of admissions, and she’s done all of this while hiring a Chicago firm to manage the communications about it and to lobby with the state to change which institution calls this campus home,” Rayapati explained in detail her position. “Has she reached out to see what our neighbors in Silvis, East Moline, or Rock Island think about WIU? Her attempts to run a city like a business when it is really a service organization have fallen flat and she’s jeopardized our reputation in the area once again. We look like an unreliable partner. Why would anyone want to do business with us? This isn’t a mode of operating we can sustain.”
About the mass exodus of city staff during Mayor Stephanie Acri’s tenure
Rayapati also gave her opinion on another issue that has been plaguing city in the past four years. This issue is the huge turnover of city staff.
“It is clear to me that the leadership of the last four years has changed the dynamics of city employment to make it so that people would rather leave than put up with disrespect for their professional opinion and instability in the turnover of the chief of all operations, the city administrator,” she shared her suspicions why there is such a high turnover of staff including employees in high positions.
She believes there has to be changes in a way local government functions. She feels the staff needs to understand better what their roles are in the government and they need to “follow good organizational practices so that staff knows where to get their marching orders from.”
The importance of diversity on elected officials
Rayapati also shared her thoughts on the importance of people of color in the discussion that bring different experiences and approaches to the table that could help to improve things for all residents of Moline.
“Having people of color at decision-making tables means an increase in the number of perspectives shared with those that have power. It means better outcomes for citizens because there is more variety of thought and life experience at that decision-making table. And this goes for more than just race and ethnicity. Diverse professional backgrounds, socio-economic status all have a place at decision-making tables,” she gave her opinion of the importance of a diverse group of people participating in the government.
Diversity has always mattered to Candidate Rayapati. While in the public office on the school board, she made sure to be more involved and connect better with such organizations as LULAC and the NAACP and others.
“It has been a pleasure to expand my world beyond my work and my family and I look forward to expanding that circle to our whole community as Mayor,” she said. “I am in this race to make life in Moline better for everyone. I am ready to change the way things have been done, to change the historic pathways to influence and progress and make sure more voices are heard when it comes to what the future of the city should be. Our futures are tied together with those we serve. It is not some predetermined gift from those in power that we should be thankful for. Our future should be made together, and I am the candidate to do that.”
Sangeetha Rayapati is asking for your vote for Mayor of Moline. The Illinois Consolidated election will be on April 6, 2021. Early voting started Friday, March 12 in Rock Island County.
EARLY VOTING in County Clerk’s Office:
March 12 -April 5
Rock Island County Clerk
1504 Third Avenue, Rock Island, Illinois 61201
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
*In observance of Good Friday the office will be closed on April 2, 2021.