Friday, September 20, 2013

A Crowd of Coralville Candidates

Coralville looks set for a record breaking city election with two strong factions and a wide field of candidates. Four candidates are running for the open mayor's chair and eight people are seeking three council seats.

Coralville's city finances and dealings, including its use of tax incremental financing (TIF) districts and luring Von Maur from Iowa City's Sycamore Mall to the Iowa River landing, have been much in the news the past few years.

The "outsider" group, Citizens For Responsible Growth And Taxation, has a site but doesn't list its preferred candidates yet. I've made some guesses based on rhetoric. Maybe we'll see the kind of weird left-right-libertarian coalition that's played such a big role in area politics this past year, most notably on the defeats of the justice center.
Tangent but worth noting: That coalition was a minority that never topped 50%. They only had to score 40% for their wins. Also worth noting: the loudest grumblings about Coralville's finances come from people who don't live in Coralville. The left-right-libertarian coalition was strongest in the Iowa City limits. If only Coralville had voted on the justice center, it would have passed last November with 60.6%, about four points higher than the countywide result.
Links are mainly to the non-paywalled Gazette, where someone clearly did the old-school legwork of posting themselves at City Hall for yesterday's 5 PM filing deadline. That's harder to do when there's only about six working journalists in town anymore. The cities bring their paperwork in to the auditor later today. Look for a post about the other eight cities this evening.

The mayor's chair is open as Jim Fausett, who's served since 1995 and was on the council for a couple decades before that, retires. Four candidates:
Matt Adam, 37, Republican, Brown Deer area (precinct 2), Attorney; represented people and businesses who sued the city over the Von Maur deal. So pretty clearly the CRGT guy: "“We need to continue to encourage economic growth and development in Coralville, but it needs to be responsible and not leave the taxpayers with ever-larger tax increases in order to finance the growing debt."

David Fesler, 62, precinct 7. Registered Democrat, married to prominent GOP activist Karen Fesler. Ran for supervisor in 2012 as an independent.

John Lundell, 57, Democrat, precinct 2, works at College of Public Health. Elected to city council 2003. Was top vote getter in his 2009 council re-election. Has Fausett's endorsement.

Logan Strabala, West High student. Just turned 18 Monday, which has attracted a fair amount of news attention. Has not yet registered to vote.
Three seats on the council. Two incumbents running and one seat vacant; Lundell's term expires so he's either up or out. (The two holdovers are Mitch Gross and Jill Dodds.) One former member, one repeat candidate, four newcomers.
Tom Gill, 67, Democrat, precinct 1 (the old part of town). Dentist. First elected 1987; stepped down in 1999 but came back in 2001. Finished third of six candidates for three seats in 2009.

Laurie Goodrich, 58, Republican, precinct 3. City staffer 1998 to 2007. Ran in 2009 finishing fifth.
Bill Hoeft, 46, precinct 6, incumbent, elected 2009 finishing in second place. Just switched affiliation from Republican to No Party on Wednesday. Was seen as an outsider in `09, contributing to the defeat of four term councilman Henry Herwig, but seems less so after a full term.

Dave Petsel, 56, Republican, precinct 6. Owner of Iowa River Power Restaurant and Flannigan’s. Appears to be associated with CRGT: "Wants city government to be more open while enacting responsible growth policies that do not add to the city’s “already heavy” debt."

Jean Schnake, 63, no party, Auburn Hills area. Elected to council 1995. Served till a 2007 loss, in the closest race in Coralville history. (Not so much a loss as: three candidates for two seats, Mitch Gross way ahead of the two incumbents, and Schnake drew the short straw, falling just 12 votes short of John Weihe.)

Chris Turner, 61, Republican, precinct 6. Faculty member in the UI Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Likely CRGT guy: "doesn't think taxpayers should bear the burden of financing such growth. He pledged as councilor to prioritize the city’s assets and work to improve the city’s financial standing."

John Weber, 69, Democrat, precinct 3. Runs furniture and design business The Luxe Zone. "Weber says he hopes to have the opportunity to “continue the great work the current city council and mayor have put in motion.”"

Mark Winkler,  56, Republican, precinct 3. UI business faculty. Looks like third CRGT candidate: "“I want to see Coralville grow; but our debt, which is the highest per capita of any city in Iowa, threatens to hold us back if not addressed proactively,"

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