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UI alum Mitchell seeks city council seat

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | AUGUST 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jarrett Mitchell wants to “end restrictions and expand freedom.”

And he hopes he can do that through a seat on the Iowa City City Council.

The 33-year-old said his campaign will focus on representation of the students, increasing sustainability, and leaving small businesses untouched by local government.

A 2000 University of Iowa art major graduate, he said he believes he can offer good representation for UI students, having experienced student life in Iowa City.

“I just feel like students have no voice on the City Council, how it is [currently],” he said. “I want to make sure that the lines of communication are open, and we respect those lines. I believe there is a lack of respect toward students, who make up much of the population.”

And some UI students agreed.

“I would say City Council represents more of the permanent residents than the students,” said Katie Hess, a 21-year-old history major. “And students are important to the local economy from all the money they put into housing and local businesses.”

Councilor Susan Mims said the council has allowed opportunities for communication between students and councilors through the UI Student Government liaison, Raj Patel.

“If students utilize student governments, they have an opportunity to have very direct contact with City Council,” she said. “I think City Council has a great deal of respect for the students. We’re very aware of the fact that this city is what it is because of the university and the students who attend it.”

And while Patel said the city councilors are receptive to his suggestions, there is room for improvement.

“They highly value my opinion and take me seriously, but I don’t have voting power, so it really is just an opinion,” Patel said. “I would love to see a student have voting power on the City Council.”

Mitchell said he also hopes to improve the conditions of students who use bicycles by cleaning up the bike lines of potentially harmful sand and brush and allowing more cycling to happen on streets such as Gilbert.

“Cycling is another issue that involves students in Iowa City,” Mitchell said. “I’ve noticed that it’s really taken off around the university. I’m not looking for separation or segregation but integration on the roads among pedestrians, cyclists, and cars.”

Aside from promoting more adequate representation of students, Mitchell also plans to focus on sustainability and expansion of urban agriculture by allowing residents to have chickens on their property, which is currently prohibited.

Mitchell owns Wake Up Iowa City, a coffee shop located downtown, and in doing so, feels he is able to sympathize with small business owners.

“I don’t think that City Council needs to control the manner in which downtown develops economically,” he said. “I don’t think any business owner looks to the City Council for guidance, and it shouldn’t restrict or tax where a business takes place.”

While he has no specific plans in mind to address his concerns about communication, Mitchell’s main priority is ensuring the freedom of citizens.

“When I look at students, I’m not looking to implement new programs but simply how they can enjoy the fruits of how they can be adults and free citizens,” he said.


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