Why I'm running for Davenport city council

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts by candidates. -promoted by Laura Belin

With modern American politics being what they are, is it any wonder most everyone is disenchanted with our elected officials and government? In recent years, our government has exhibited extreme incompetence, a level of insolence that is unacceptable from the federal government.

That is why, despite my young age of eighteen, I plan to run for city council this November in Davenport, the city I was born and raised in. The city I love with all my heart.

Given my age, am I the most qualified to run for office? Why would I even want to, considering the vicious game of partisanship? Well, I would propose the idea to you that our elected officials don’t need fancy degrees or some extreme circumstances that make them ‘qualified’, instead they should have a deep seeded concern for the welfare of their friends and neighbors, and for the future of our society.

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Urgent: Civil rights commission threatened in Davenport (updated)

Latrice Lacey, an attorney and mother, has been director of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission since 2014. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Davenport City Council is considering an illegal amendment to our city’s civil rights ordinance, which would eliminate the neutrality and independence of our Civil Rights Commission. The proposed change would decommission a body which has been active since 1962, remove the authority to manage staff, and replace it with a council-led board lacking knowledge of civil rights law enforcement.

In addition, the proposed ordinance would exclude all government and Davenport Schools employees from the protections of the civil rights ordinance. Despite this clear violation of state law and drastic change, council members have claimed there will be no change. Either they haven’t read the draft ordinance, or they are hoping community members haven’t read it.

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Iowa local election results discussion thread

What election results were you watching tonight, Bleeding Heartland readers? I was excited to see the “Core 4” progressive slate sweep the Iowa City council elections, despite a well-financed campaign for the rival group, representing Chamber of Commerce types who have long dominated local government. John Deeth described what was at stake in those races, and Tom Carsner put it succinctly in a letter to the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

The “growth at any price to grow the tax base” philosophy of the present council majority puts Iowa City at financial risk when one TIF-financed Big Bang project turns south. A series of smaller investor-financed mixed use — business and residential — projects can energize multiple neighborhoods and build a more reliable and sustainable tax base.

[…] I urge Iowa City to welcome the just, equal, affordable, inclusive and sustainable growth vision presented by John Thomas, Rockne Cole, Pauline Taylor and Jim Throgmorton. Vote for them to shake loose the scared establishment of the present City Council.

UPDATE: In his analysis of the Iowa City results, Deeth sees outgoing Mayor Matt Hayek’s “ham-handed editorial” in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on October 14 as “a turning point in the campaign.” Bleeding Heartland user corncam points to another factor that may have helped the “Core 4.”

Davenport voters resoundingly elected Frank Klipsch mayor, ousting incumbent Bill Gluba by more than a 2: 1 margin. It’s the end of a long political career for Gluba, who won his first election (to the Iowa legislature) 45 years ago. Gluba was an activist even before running for office, participating in the 1963 march on Washington for civil rights. His handling of some local controversies this year, including his role in forcing out Davenport’s city manager, prompted the Quad-City Times to endorse Klipsch, a former CEO of the local YMCA who has a “reputation for bringing diverse groups together” and a “more collaborative style.”

In my own corner of the world, I was pleasantly surprised that challengers Threase Harms and Zac Bales-Henry defeated the two Windsor Heights City Council incumbents on the ballot. CORRECTION: Only Harms won her seat outright. Bales-Henry will have to face Charlene Butz in a December 8 runoff election. Butz and Dave Burgess were frequent “no” votes on any kind of change or progress, and Butz was a particularly dedicated opponent of new sidewalks on streets where they are badly needed. Bales-Henry promised to work to “Create a more efficient and walkable neighborhood […] and ensure that each citizen can walk, run or bike to any location within city limits safely and easily,” as well as trying to improve the local trails system. Harms also expressed support for new sidewalks on key city streets. You never know what could become a hot-button issue in local politics, and the sidewalks question has been one of the most divisive issues in Windsor Heights over the past decade. UPDATE: The anti-sidewalks voters may come out in force for the December 8 runoff, but even if Butz is re-elected, there might be enough votes for change, because two of the incumbents who were not on the ballot this year (Steve Peterson and Tony Timm) have expressed support for new sidewalks in the past.

My son and I stopped at Harms’ home while trick-or-treating on Friday. When I mentioned that I’d seen lots of her yard signs around town, she responded, “Yard signs don’t vote.” Right answer! Clearly she knows how to GOTV, because she finished way ahead of the rest of the field in our at-large elections. That’s a rare accomplishment for a first-time candidate running against incumbents.

UPDATE: I was sorry to see that Cedar Rapids residents rejected a levy to fund public libraries. Todd Dorman covered the campaign for library funding over the weekend.

Voters in Des Moines re-elected Mayor Frank Cownie and the city councillors who were on the ballot. I didn’t realize that Cownie is now the longest-serving Des Moines mayor. In the most hotly-contested race, the open seat in Ward 2 on the east side of Des Moines, turnout was down and Linda Westergaard, backed by business interests including a realtors’ lobbying group, defeated Marty Mauk.

photo credit: Mark Carlson

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Iowa City recognized for strong LGBT equality policies

Iowa City received a perfect score and four other Iowa cities above-average scores in Human Rights Campaign’s new Municipal Equality Index. The LGBT advocacy group evaluated 353 cities across the country to see how inclusive their “laws, policies, and services” were for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people “who live and work there.” You can read more about the ratings criteria here. According to KCRG, the national average score was 59.

Iowa City was one of 38 municipalities to receive a perfect score of 100. Human Rights Campaign awarded scores of 86 to Davenport, 85 to Des Moines, 68 to Cedar Rapids, and 61 to Sioux City. Council Bluffs was not rated, but just across the Missouri River, Omaha received a score of 51.

KCRG noted in its report,

Iowa City did lose points in several areas, including not having transgender-inclusive health benefits or an ordinance requiring equal benefits from city contractors. However, the city also scored well in the bonus point system that was also part of the Human Rights Campaign’s rating.

You can view the detailed Municipal Equality Index ratings on Iowa City here, Davenport here, Des Moines here, Cedar Rapids here, and Sioux City here.

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Weekend open thread: Local Iowa news edition

Dubuque area residents are still dealing with the aftermath of more than 10 inches of rain in a 24-hour period this week, which caused massive flash flooding and road closures. It was a one-day record for rainfall. Governor Terry Branstad changed his schedule on July 28 to inspect the damage.

The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa wrapped up today in Davenport. From what I’ve read and seen on the news, it sounds like the pass-through and overnight towns generally did a great job providing refreshments and entertainment for the riders. It can’t have been pleasant bicycling and camping out in this week’s high heat, but thousands of riders made it all the way to the Mississippi River. RAGBRAI officials made minor route changes in Davenport, fearing flooding after the heavy rain in Dubuque, but the river stayed in its banks.

A little more than a year ago, flooding washed away the dam at Lake Delhi in Delaware County. The lake quickly drained, ruining what had been a popular resort area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied funding for people who owned houses on the former lake. Property values and tax receipts are way down. In the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund bill for fiscal year 2012, state legislators included funding for a Lake Delhi dam restoration study, as well as “intent” language regarding future funds for reconstruction. Branstad used his item veto power to remove the planned funding to rebuild the dam, saying any commitment was premature before the study results have been received. More details on Branstad’s veto are after the jump. I see his point, but the veto will hurt local efforts to secure other financing for the project.

It’s worth noting that Branstad urged state legislators to pass a bill this year promoting nuclear reactor construction in Iowa, even though MidAmerican is only one year into a three-year feasibility study on that project. The pro-nuclear bill passed the Iowa House but didn’t come up for a floor vote in the Iowa Senate.

This week Kiplinger released its 2011 list of “Best Value Cities” nationwide, and Cedar Rapids was ranked number 9. Analysts cited strong local employers, good amenities, reasonable home prices, and a good recovery from the 2008 flooding. Kiplinger mentioned major downtown renovation projects but not the I-JOBS state infrastructure bonding initiative, which was a crucial for financing those projects. State Representative Renee Schulte, who represents part of northeast Cedar Rapids, cheered the praise from Kiplinger. Like all other Iowa House Republicans, she voted against the I-JOBS program. Schulte won her first election in Iowa House district 37 by just 13 votes in 2008. The Democrat she defeated, Art Staed, is seeking a rematch in the new House district 66 in 2012.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers?

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