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Hayek sets out his agenda

BY KATHRYN STINSON | JANUARY 18, 2010 7:30 AM

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Matt Hayek has spent a year dealing with budget cuts and increased crime. Now, he wants to focus on issues that will better the community.

As Iowa City’s new mayor, he said he wants to prioritize combating local crime and balancing the city’s budget, along with recruiting a new city manager and pushing for economic development.

The Iowa City City Council unanimously voted to make the Iowa City native mayor on Jan. 2.

Unacceptable local crime levels are the most difficult issue to address, Hayek said. He noted the city will hire six new police officers.

“We want to continue the city’s intense focus on crime and crime-related issues,” he said.

Hayek, a local attorney, said living here throughout different phases of his life will influence his role as mayor.

Growing up as a son of city officials, local politics always found its way to the dinner table. His father was the city attorney and his mother served as president of the Iowa City School Board.

After graduating from City High, Hayek enrolled at the University of Michigan, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1992.

After graduation, Hayek joined the Peace Corps and served in the mountains of Bolivia. There, he volunteered to build drinking-water systems for two years.

“In Bolivia, I saw firsthand the challenges of organizing a community behind a common goal,” Hayek said. “I learned many valuable lessons, and even became fluent in Spanish.”

After his time in Bolivia, he earned a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1997 and gained law experience in both Atlanta and Chicago.

But he felt something was missing, he said. His roots were calling him home.

He returned to Iowa City in 2001.

“I wanted to have a rewarding law practice but also have the opportunity to be a part of my community and raise a family,” he said.

Upon his return, Hayek became active in the local community. After serving various positions on commissions, he decided to run for a seat on the City Council; he was elected in January 2008.

Months later, disastrous flooding swept across part of Iowa City. Hayek said working with community members during the flood was his most memorable experience as a councilor.

“It was gratifying to be part of a team of committed individuals, especially city staff, as we dealt with the worst natural disaster in the history of our community,” he said.

Mike Wright — who has served with Hayek for two years — said he is pleased with the council’s decision to appoint him.

“My impression of Matt is somebody who is levelheaded and unstoppable,” Wright said. “He’s a truly a nice guy and easy to get along with.”

Hayek said he thinks he’s well-suited to serve as Iowa City’s mayor — he and is happy to do so.

“I believe it’s the best way for me to be of service to my community,” he said. “The work is important, and I find it interesting.”


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