Sunday, September 06, 2015

Iowa City Council: Can't Wait For Election Day

The other day I saw a yard with signs for three different elections at once. They had school candidates, a city candidate, and a presidential candidate. So if Bernie Sanders is accidentally elected to the Iowa City School Board on Tuesday, that's why.

Could have been worse. We could have had a city primary.

Four Iowa Iowa City City Iowa Iowa Council Council candidates aren't waiting for Tuesday's school election to kickoff campaigning for the November 3 city election, and held a joint event Sunday afternoon

It's a clear early sign that the lines dividing Iowa City are likely to break into two distinct factions across all three of the separate contests in Iowa City's rather confusing district system. (All you need to remember this year is that everyone is running city-wide.)

The candidates who gathered Sunday at the Burford House Inn, across the street from College Green Park, are generally seen as the "progressive" faction. In the at-large there's Rockne Cole, who ran a respectable fourth in 2013, and Jim Throgmorton, the District C incumbent who's switching races. In the district races, two first time candidates were on hand, Pauline Taylor in District A and John Thomas in District C,

This would, by default, make the other faction newcomer Tim Conroy and incumbent Michelle Payne in the at-large race, incumbent Rick Dobyns in District A, and first time candidate Scott McDonough in District C.

Throgmorton and Kingsley Botchway often end up on the short end of 5-2 votes against Payne, Dobyns, Susan Mims, Terry Dickens, and mayor Matt Hayek (who is stepping down this year; Dickens, Mims and Botchway were elected in 2013 and hold over.)

"My hope is at least a couple of us get elected," said Throgmorton. "Or all four," added Cole.  Three wins, along with Botchway, would add up to the first progressive city council majority in living memory.

Even though Iowa City is Iowa's most progressive oasis in state and national elections, and even though the University brings in people from across the county and world to settle here, city government has been permanently controlled by a business-townie establishment. The closest we've ever come to progressive control was a 4-3 split in the mid-90s.

"We need to build on what is great about Iowa City and make it a just city," said Throgmorton.

"We're not a slate, but it is about these four campaigns," said Thomas. "What's common to all four of us is we are genuinely interested in embracing the diversity of Iowa City. The current council pays a kind of lip service to diversity."

"Their hearts are in the right place," Cole said of the current council majority," but they don't represent the entire community in the way that they should."

Cole hopes to add affordable living and a commitment to environmental sustainability to the council agenda. "We haven't had enough people to support Jim's voice."

"Growth is good," said Taylor, "but some of our recent growth isn't." She hopes to make sustainability and historic preservation a bigger factor in development.

All four candidates said the current council majority is not responsive to or encouraging of public input. "Do you view community participation as an obstacle," asked Cole, "or as an opportunity?"

Cole, Taylor, Thomas and Throgmorton all said if it came to a vote they would support Johnson County's ordinance that would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The county ordinance is certain to pass its third and final vote Thursday, with an effective date for the first phase of the increase of November 1 - two days before the city election.

No comments: