Interview: Rachel Junck on her winning strategy in Ames

Rachel Junck became the second Iowa State University student elected to the Ames City Council this week, winning the runoff election in Ward 4 by 723 votes (55.1 percent) to 589 votes (44.9 percent) according to unofficial results.

Not only did Junck beat a two-term incumbent with strong ties in the business community, her supporters helped push total turnout on December 3 (1,313 votes) higher than the 1,220 who cast ballots in the ward on November 5. Ask anyone who has worked on local campaigns: that almost never happens.

How did she do it? Junck made time for a telephone interview with Bleeding Heartland on December 5.

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Business community losing influence in Iowa local elections?

Rachel Junck‘s victory in the Ames City Council Ward 4 runoff election on December 3 was historic in two ways. The 20-year-old engineering major is the youngest second-youngest woman elected to any office in Iowa* and the first female Iowa State University student to win a seat on the council of our state’s seventh-largest city.

The outcome in Ames was also in line with a recent trend: candidates with strong ties in business circles have not performed as well in local elections in larger Iowa communities.

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Iowa City ranked 10th most "livable" city in U.S.

Iowa City ranks tenth on Livability.com’s second annual list of “100 Best Places to Live” among small to mid-sized cities in the U.S. Looking at 2,000 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000, researchers calculated each city’s “LivScore” using 40 data points falling under eight broad categories, explained in more detail here: amenities, demographics, economy, education, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation. The website said of Iowa City,

Annual cultural events and a strong literary history with writers like John Irving and Flannery O’Connor have helped shape Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa. The college community offers a hardy arts and entertainment environment along with good health care for residents, highlighted by Mercy Hospital and the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

Iowa City has previously been recognized as Iowa’s most walkable city.

Farther down the list of “Best Places to Live,” Iowa cities mentioned were Ames at number 30, West Des Moines at number 57, Cedar Rapids at number 65, and Des Moines at number 82.

Livability.com explained the methodology underlying the list here. The website tweaked the criteria they used last year to compile the first “Best Places to Live” list:

Specifically, we wanted to add some more variables about health care; look at the role of proximity to institutions like hospitals, colleges and universities; and create a better balance between our survey questions and the topics we were measuring. We created some new variables including a measure of racial and ethnic diversity and a rather unique look at the diversity of housing stock.

Those changes allowed Iowa City to move up from number 47 last year to this year’s top ten. Iowa’s highest-ranking city on Livability.com’s inaugural list was Cedar Rapids at number 30, followed by Ames at number 32. Des Moines was ranked number 70 and West Des Moines number 77 last year.

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Iowa Rivers Revival - 3rd River Congress

Iowa Rivers Revival
3rd River Congress
Saturday, January 8, 2011
1-5PM
Izaak Walton League
4343 George Flagg Pkwy, Des Moines
FREE
& open to anyone interested in attending
EXHIBIT: $100/table
RSVP: rlehman@iowarivers.org; 515-202-7720 (name, address, phone, e-mail, and river(s) of interest)

Each River Congress continues to build and broaden the base of Iowa’s river community and strengthen river policy influence. The most important aspect of the Congress is to develop a statewide river network-a force of river supporters who communicate with policy leaders about the importance of water quality and river conservation. We continue to hear from Iowa legislators and Iowans alike that there is no voice for Iowa’s rivers – with your help, we can to change that!

IRR has recently retained lobbying services for the 2011 session. We are excited to be able to provide representation for Iowa’s rivers on the hill and better inform you about river policy issues during the legislative session.

Congress participants will learn about the 2011 legislative landscape and river priorities, and how we can work together to achieve those goals. The program will also highlight and discuss the economic value of rivers, and the need, importance and opportunities to expand a statewide river coalition. In 2008 River Congress participants helped draft a vision for the River Bill of Rights, we would like to revisit those principles each year to be sure they continue to be the goals and objectives for Iowa’s river advocates.

River Congress Links: www.iowarivers.org
River Congress Agenda
River Bill of Rights 2011
Legislative Agenda River Congress

Sponsors: Des Moines Izaak Walton League and the Raccoon River Watershed Association

Please share this invitation – the outcomes from the River Congress should reflect a range of river perspectives and experiences from across the state: River Advocates • Conservationists & Environmentalists • Watershed Groups • Farmers • Anglers • Community Leaders • Hunters • Recreationists • Outdoor Outfitters • Students • Teachers • Wildlife Observers • Concerned Citizens-anyone interested in water quality and river stewardship.

Please RSVP. We will be providing district-watershed specific information for each participant. It will be very helpful to have participants RSVP in advance to help prepare this information. We will enter each participant that RSVPs in a drawing for a door prize.

Rosalyn Lehman
Executive Director
Iowa Rivers Revival
PO Box 72, Des Moines, IA 50301
515-202-7720
rlehman@iowarivers.org | www.iowarivers.org

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