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Vote Champion, Tallon, and Mims in City Council election today

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | NOVEMBER 03, 2009 7:20 AM

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Iowa City City Council election guide

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Opinions: Vote Tallon and Mims in City Council primary

In meeting with the two District B candidates running for Iowa City City Council, we were a bit underwhelmed.

Yet, subtleties between incumbent Connie Champion and challenger Mark McCallum have led the DI Editorial Board to hesitantly endorse Champion in District B. Voters can find precinct and additional information on the Johnson County auditor’s website.

Our tepid support for Champion, a longtime city councilor, is largely based on a lack of formidable challengers. We recognize the need for a new voice on the council; we just don’t want it to be McCallum’s. Ultimately, Champion’s experience — along with relatively agreeable positions on business expansion, South Side violence, and support of the student vote — make her more palatable than McCallum.

Neither candidate provided a workable solution with respect to downtown safety. Champion said bar employees need to better monitor illegal activity within their doors and welcomed bar-funded police patrols, while McCallum argued that the culture of binge drinking at UI is an unintended consequence of the drinking age being 21.

In addition, Champion’s staunch support for narrowly tying alcohol licensing to PAULA ratios is troubling. Our endorsement of Champion should not be misconstrued as a concurrent backing of such a wrong-minded policy.

The District B candidates’ respective political philosophies diverge greatly on economic matters.

While both favor economic development, Champion, a small-business owner, generally sees a greater role for city governments in setting parameters for businesses. McCallum, a landlord and developer, favors a more laissez-faire approach toward zoning and regulation.



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On mitigating violence on the South Side, McCallum called for reforming public housing in the area. Champion provided a more felicitous proposal, suggesting the city funds a “youth policeman,” trained in social work and hired to fundamentally alter the way South Side youth view police officers. Champion also deferred the vote for an Iowa City curfew, allowing residents the opportunity to develop additional solutions.

She also welcomed the chance to work with student councilors, arguing students need a voice on the council.

“Students should have more say in government,” she said.

Despite our reservations, we support the outspoken Champion because of her experience, sensible proposals, and audible bolstering of student participation.

In the at-large race, we haven’t oscillated in our support for UI junior Dan Tallon and resident Susan Mims since our initial endorsement last month. While many have lined up behind UI senior Jeff Shipley, we view it as more important for a candidate to substantively represent student and community interests than to merely be a student.

Despite Shipley’s experience as the UI Student Government liaison to the City Council, his staunch libertarianism turned us off.

As a 20-year-old member of the Army National Guard with a working-class background, Tallon would bring a much-needed perspective to the City Council. He has interesting ideas concerning Iowa City housing, including setting up a website with rent and landlord-infraction information and helping low-income students pay for rent.

Mims’ grasp of city issues is impressive, as is her experience. She’s a former member of the Iowa City School Board and is currently a financial planner. Mims clearly bests fellow resident and at-large candidate Terry Dickens with her knowledge of the issues. Her well-developed ideas sharply contrast with Dickens’ generalities.

Write-in candidate Sara Baird, a UI Libraries employee, entered the race late last month, but her candidacy doesn’t affect our support for Mims and Tallon.

Whomever you vote for, however, we urge you to vote. Turnout in the primary was abysmal for students and residents alike. Whether you’re a resident or student, you need to make your democratic voice heard.


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