Monday, September 24

Candidate Forum: Downtown-centric

From right to left: Brandon Ross, Dee Vanderhoef, Matt Hayek, Mike Wright, and Terry Smith

The FAIR!/Sierra Club/DFA at-large city council candidates forum was centered in the center--downtown Iowa City. With the exception of Dee Vanderhoef and Brandon Ross who live on the eastside of the city, all of the candidates running in the at-large race live in or near downtown. Many of the responses reflected the importance of downtown to the economic development of Iowa City, but did not address the needs of other parts of town, with the exception of Brandon Ross who mentioned placing a branch library on the southside.

Questions were raised about both referendum items: the 21-only (in bars after 10 pm) ordinance and the change of the charter to allow the Police Review Board to have subpoena power to essentially allow the board the "teeth" to seek information from reluctant witnesses. Smith, Hayek, Ross all said they would vote against the 21 ordinance personally and Vanderhoef and Wright said they would vote for it.

The most interesting question may have been about when a candidate believed they would have to excuse him or herself from a vote. Dee Vanderhoef said she had recused herself three times, twice when a vote involved a social group she is affiliated with and once when, under advice from the city attorney, she recused herself because of a vote that involved the business interest her husband has as owner of Iowa Book and Supply. Terry Smith said that if the franchise agreement with MidAmerican Energy, who is his employer and for whom he has been negotiating the agreement, is not decided before he would be on council, he would have to recuse himself from that vote. Matt Hayek said, because of his representing non-profit organizations as an attorney, he would either have to turn over the cases or recuse himself from a vote. Neither Mike Wright nor Brandon Ross could think of reasons to recuse themselves from votes involving those organizations.

Faces in the crowd included district C unopposed candidate, Regenia Bailey, and James Moody from the North Liberty City Council. Attendance was light with 36 people in the audience.

The forum, which was broadcast live on cable channel 10 will be rebroadcast.

In the meantime, the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum is tonight in city council chambers at 7 pm.

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