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City council candidates start filing and talk affordable housing

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – The candidate filing period opened for Iowa City and University Heights municipal elections Monday. In Iowa City, three candidates have announced candidacy for two at-large city council seats.

Voters and candidates agree more affordable housing should be high on the council’s agenda.

“They want to see affordability back,” Iowa City resident Brandon Ross said. “People who have jobs in town can’t afford to live in town.”

Ross himself ran for city council in 2001, ’03 and ’07.

“They have to push for mixed, affordable housing, instead of just building towers that are all expensive,” Ross said.

Janice Weiner, a former foreign services officer for the U.S. State Department, was the only candidate to file on Monday. Weiner was born in Eastern Iowa and returned a few years ago, running for Iowa state senate and Iowa City Community School Board, both unsuccessfully.

“It taught me how to put together and run a campaign,” Weiner said. “A positive campaign, on the issues that people care the most about.”

She agrees Iowa City could use more diverse neighborhoods.

“While the high schools and the junior highs are really diverse, some of the neighborhoods where elementary schools are are not. And that’s a detriment to the kids,” Weiner said.

Lifelong Iowa City resident Laura Bergus says her time throughout the community, and her background working for the cities of Iowa City and North Liberty, showed her the affordable housing problem.

“I can see the difficulty for people trying to make a living here, and the difficulty for employers to pay their people enough so that they can live here,” Bergus said.

Housing and Community Development Commissioner Megan Alter says her time volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters opened her eyes.

“My little -in the span of five years- has had six different housing situations; including homelessness, including having to be out of state,” Alter said.

The three agreed green initiatives, in the wake of the city’s climate crisis declaration, and better transportation were the other principal issues.

The election will be on November 5, with a possible primary scheduled for October 8 if enough candidates emerge.

One of the at-large seats up for grabs will be Mayor Jim Throgmorton’s, who is stepping down after his second term. The council will choose a new mayor amongst themselves after the election.

 

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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