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Planning and Zoning staffer becomes 10th IC city council candidate

BY ALISON SULLIVAN | SEPTEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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There are more than just bars downtown.

Vitality in downtown Iowa City is one issue University of Iowa student Michelle Payne intends to focus on as the newest Iowa City City Council candidate.

Payne, who officially filed to run for a seat on the council on Wednesday, said she supports the 21-ordinance and wants to see a shift in the culture downtown away from alcohol.

Payne said she is also hoping to address the parking problems found in downtown.

“I hate it when I want to go somewhere and I can’t find a place to park,” she said.

Providing adequate parking downtown is not only important for businesses and people who shop downtown, she said, but for those living in the area’s apartments and condominiums.

“I guess the biggest [priority] is pro-business [policies],” she said. “I would obviously like to see our community grow and find ways that we can grow … through other types of businesses besides drinking establishments.”

Mark Ginsberg, who owns MC Ginsberg, 110 E. Washington St., said current city officials do a good job promoting downtown, which is an important aspect of the city.

“The downtown is a mirror into the soul of those who live here,” he said. “It has all of the local families that still exist here.”

The 45-year-old Payne grew up in the Quad Cities and moved to Iowa City in 2005. She serves as an operations supervisor with MidAmerican Energy, where she has observed field crews and gas and electric servicemen for the past 28 years.

Payne is also a UI student, planning to graduate in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree.

Payne has prior experience with city organizations, serving on the Iowa City’s Board of Adjustment. She currently serves on the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission.

Former City Councilor Bob Elliott said Payne would bring a new perspective to the council.

“I think she would bring the knowledge of a working mother — a blue-collar working mother — who has gone to school part-time,” Elliott said. “She’s an educated person who understands the needs and concerns, and wishes, and dreams of the average family.”


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