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Students should vie for open spots in this year’s council election

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | JULY 10, 2009 7:10 AM

The Iowa City City Council makes decisions that affect the lives of Iowa City’s permanent and non-permanent residents every day: The Sheraton Hotel Walkway will be closed to the public at night once construction is complete because of council approval. No new bars may open downtown unless they inherit the space’s previous liquor license because of a new City Council ordinance. Soon, rental properties may become a rarity on the city’s North Side neighborhood, thanks to a series of City Council initiatives.

These actions sometimes reflect an adversarial attitude toward the UI community, but now the community has the opportunity to change that. Three council positions will be up for election this fall, and members of the UI community should seriously consider running for those positions.

The City Council has seven voting members: four at-large representatives and three district members. Two at-large positions and the District B representative are up for election.

The District B representative must be at least 18 years old, a legal citizen registered to vote in Iowa City, and living in District B (basically, the area south of North Dodge Street and east of Governor Street) at the time of the election. The representative represents the people of that particular district, and as such needs at least 187 signatures from people also living in that district.

The person representing District B at present is Connie Champion. She has indicated to the city clerk’s office that she may not seek re-election this fall, but she has not confirmed that. The city clerk’s office said she has yet to pick up papers for re-election, even though those papers have been available since June 1. Only one person has picked up papers to run for District B so far, so it seems a pretty open competition.

Renters living in District B should seriously consider running for this council seat. The council has favored a series of initiatives to limit the number of available rental properties in the area. It has also voiced support for selling rental properties, such as commercially owned homes, to first-time buyers in order to reduce the number of renters in the area. A sizable number of the renters living in the area are students and other members of the UI community. These initiatives could drive the UI community out of that neighborhood.

People who don’t live in this district but may still want to run for office have the option to run for one of the two at-large positions on the council. A person running for this position only has to live and be registered to vote in Iowa City at the time of the election. The number of signatures required is 242, but they can be anyone living and registered in Iowa City. They do not represent a particular district, but they have an equal voice and vote on the council.

The people serving in the two open seats are Amy Correia and Mike O’Donnell, both of whom have indicated they may not run for re-election. The city clerk’s office said neither person has filed papers to run. Eight others, however, have requested the required paper work to run as of Wednesday, but the clerk’s office said that not all of them formally file the paperwork.

People interested in running should pick up papers at the City Clerk's office, or visit icgov.org for the handbook.

Students and other members of the UI community should seriously consider sending representatives to the council. They make decisions that affect our lives, for better or worse. There is a student liaison working with the council. That person has a voice but does not have a vote on the council. The UI community is a major element of the city. It deserves at least one vote.


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