Former UI student to make Iowa City council run

BY IAN SCHMIT | JUNE 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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A former University of Iowa student hopes to become a voice for young people in Iowa City with his newly announced campaign for the Iowa City City Council.

Josh Eklow told The Daily Iowan on June 11 that he intends to run for a City Council at-large seat, and he hopes to inspire other young people to do so as well.

As his main priorities, the 25-year old said, he’ll focus his campaign on inspiring young people to get more involved in local politics and the promotion of local business and opportunities to keep students in the area after school.

“It astounds me year after year that young people are under the impression that they can’t vote in local elections,” Eklow said. “I’m going to try to get the student body and the young people in Iowa City to realize that ‘yes, you can vote’ and even run for City Council and have a voice in things that largely affect Iowa City.”

Other issues he plans to tackle if he wins in the election are more efficient snow removal, finding out what the council can do to protect young people against large apartment rental companies, and making sure the university’s interests line up with that of the students.

Eklow has been pondering the run for a number of months and has been talking to people across Iowa City to get feedback on what issues are important, he said, and the announcement was no shock to those who know him.

“I was not surprised because Josh is so involved in the community, so it makes sense he would want to take this on,” said friend Becky Dewing, who was one of the first to hear of Eklow’s intent to run for City Council.

He is the second under-30 candidate to announce a bid for the City Council; National Guard soldier Dan Tallon, 22, is running for the District C seat. The seat will be left vacant by Councilor Regenia Bailey, who is not seeking re-election.

Eklow said he has been in contact with Tallon and that it’s great to hear another young person is running.

“Part of what I think is problematic about the council is that it’s part of a very certain segment of Iowa City,” Eklow said. “It’s people who have been here forever and ever and plan to stay here. The people who are on City Council are the people whose voices are going to be heard no matter what.”

He contended that it’s notable that not a single person on the council is under 30.

“Part of that is that young people just don’t run,” he said. “If my running inspires someone else to run, I would consider that a victory even if I don’t win.”

While the university obviously has a large voice in local politics, the students have almost no voice, he said.

“Time and time again, the university has made known the need for alcohol alternatives downtown,” Eklow said. “But whenever a bar closes, the university buys up the space and opens up an office.”

Others who have thrown their hats into the City Council election include Rick Dobyns, a UI clinical professor of family medicine, and Jim Throgmorton, a UI professor emeritus of urban & regional planning.

“I don’t know [Eklow], but I’m interested in meeting with him and hearing his ideas,” Throgmorton said.

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