Know More About James
From the Air Force to Principal at a prominent Architectural Firm, James Kemper has served his country and would like the opportunity to serve his City.
Born in Pekin and raised in Delavan, James did not get the easiest of starts in life. He was born to a mother still in high school, a father who would end up in prison, and some of his parenting done by his step-grandmother, clairvoyant Greta Alexander. While in High School, James would drive Greta to her appointments and assist with her nonprofit work in the Peoria community. After graduating from Delavan High School, James joined the Air National Guard to pay for his higher education. As part of the 182nd Air Guard Unit based out of Peoria, James served his country honorably.
His higher education goals led him from Illinois Central College to Bradley University. While still attending Bradley, James was taken under the wing of local architect Ed Lehmann. He began training in architecture in 1988, where he showed great skills and artistic flair. After he moved on to another local architecture firm, James was designing buildings and managing employees within a year. By 26, he was bringing in clients to the firm, managing clients and leading teams of architects. At 30, he started the Chicago Office of Phillip Swager & Assoc. (PSA) where he was named Co-Director and Design Director and became a national award-winning designer.
After PSA sold to Dewberry, Kemper stayed on for an additional two years before being recruited to work for the Internationally renowned Chicago based architectural firm Lucien LaGrange Architects as one of four principals. He designed significant buildings around the world and led large teams of ivy league schooled architects during his time there. While James enjoyed living in Chicago, it was family that brought him back to his now hometown of Peoria. In 2009, James partnered with Dominick Demonica to form the firm of Demonica Kemper Architects, with both Chicago and Peoria offices.
James met his wife, Christine Bare-Kemper, in Peoria and they blended their two families. Christine, the daughter of a long-time West Bluff neighborhood activist, grounded James with her bubbly personality and community-minded spirit. With a mix of extracurricular and academic interests, James and Christine helped guide their five children into adulthood while experiencing the breadth of Peoria’s education system with some of their children attending Richwoods High School and some attending private schools in Peoria. They settled their family in a large historic home on Parkside Drive in Peoria’s Uplands neighborhood.
Now empty-nesters, James and Christine have more time to give to their community and have dedicated themselves to a variety of community causes. Often found on the charitable fundraiser circuit, James most enjoys serving on the Board for the Peoria area CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) representing the interests of children involved in the court system in the Tenth Judicial Circuit.
In his free time, James is an author, artist, actor, and cigar aficionado. He enjoys playing chess with friends and giving back to his community.
James loves Peoria and is frustrated by seeing the city spend more than it brings in. As someone who raised a family here, brought his business here, and gives to countless community causes here, James can no longer sit on the sidelines as Peoria overtaxes and overspends. Too many “leaders” allow the city to be torn down instead of building it up.
If elected, James would be the only member of the Peoria City Council who is a Veteran. His experience as a jobs creator would assist the Peoria City Council in attracting new employers to our City. Being a principal at an architecture firm is all about deep listening, good project management and coalition building. These are all skills we desperately need on the Peoria City Council.