Council shifts on 21-ordinance

BY DI STAFF | MARCH 03, 2010 7:30 AM

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For roughly a decade, the Iowa City City Council has repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to pass an ordinance limiting bar entry age to persons over 21.

This time, it could be different.

In 2007, the last time the City Council considered the ordinance, there was not enough support among councilors to pass it with a conventional vote.

Instead of moving away from the idea and after hearing some public support for it, councilors decided to put the ordinance to a citywide vote.

With a large turnout of students, the ordinance failed, collecting only 43 percent of the vote.

But now the council has a different makeup. Some new faces, coupled with new stances from some old members, have shifted the council’s stance.

Councilors said Tuesday they’re ready to tackle the issue, and several say they support keeping the vote with councilors, not the public.

The University of Iowa also backs the proposal. In 2007, UI officials remained neutral on the ordinance.

Changes to the City Council have made the body more in favor of the 21-ordinance than before. All of the councilors said they support the move, expect for Councilor Regenia Bailey.

Residents have elected four new councilors since the 2007 election and 21-ordinance vote, including two that evening.

In 2007, Mayor Matt Hayek took 60 percent of the vote, and Mike Wright gained 35 percent. Then-incumbent Dee Vanderhoef, who openly supported the ordinance, was not re-elected.

During his campaign, Hayek said he was against the 21-ordinance. But at Monday’s work session, he’s the one who suggested it.

Councilor Connie Champion, once split on the issue, has also decided to advocate for it this year.
Susan Mims and Terry Dickens joined the council in the 2008 election. Both support the ordinance.

— by Kathryn Stinson

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