There is an important City Election around the corner and, for some, it is already "over"--they've early voted. But for the rest of us, we have until Tuesday Nov. 5th at 8 pm to vote. And why should you?
In the last 4 years, we have seen more changes to city ordinances that affect the civil rights of people in our community than in the past. Why should that be a concern to you? Because it will cost all of us in the long run, either in the resources for collecting of petty fines, the addition of police officers, or in the constant cash flow to downtown businesses being seen as a unfriendly place to go and yet always with a hand out to "create" business.
Our current city council is truly downtown business-centric and, in their actions, they think whatever is good for downtown business is good for the city. In the meantime, the businesses on the east, southeast, and west sides of town are struggling. In part, it is because of years of representation of the core, largely to the exclusion of the outlying areas of town. With 33 neighborhood associations, it is clear that residents here value other parts of town than just the hub.
However, to have a voice that advocates for outside of downtown, we have to elect people who understand the needs and have a desire to strengthen all parts of the town so that jobs can be created closer to where they live, shop, and where their children go to school.
Now that downtown has its own taxing entity, it should mean that other resources are freed up to assist the outlying neighborhoods to make improvements without all the TIF funding. And there has been some movement in that direction. However, they are for mostly to improve walk-in medical facilities that had fallen to disrepair by a large landlord rather than for affordable housing, child care facilities, and other needed services that people value.
Further, our city needs to continue finding ways to grow sustainably, improve bikeable and walkable and public transportation features so that the number of cars on the roadway can decline over time. Building on a more compact footprint should create economies in some cases, but has not proven so in the core of the city. Therefore, it is incumbent that in other parts of town, smaller communities within the community need to have the basic shops, housing, and other resources so that we have a city that can support all kinds of workers, not just those with higher incomes. When people have to spend more than 35-40% of their wages on housing, they can't afford other necessities or to save money to invest in themselves or their community. Affordable housing near work, schools, and shops allows a person to be less dependent on owning a car and more likely to be stable in their home.
There are three people running for the City Council who understand the needs of a diverse and vibrant community. They are Royceann Porter, Kingsley Botchway, and Rockne Cole. Voting in the bloc of them will balance out who is represented and will ensure that progressive minded people who are equally interested in how Iowa City grows with the livability and sustainability of it have multiple voices on the council.
Do yourself and your values the service of voting for these three great choices, our great city and its future are in your capable hands.