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Patel says he won’t repeal 21, lacks specific plans

BY DORA GROTE | SEPTEMBER 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Prominent anti-21-ordinance activist and City Council candidate Raj Patel said he has no plans to repeal the controversial bar restriction if he’s elected.

Patel met with supporters Wednesday night at a campaign kickoff event. Though he said he wants to improve downtown and increase alcohol alternative venues for students, the candidate offered few specific proposals.

“As far as specifics, that’s something that my ears will be open to discussions with [Iowa City police], [UI police], student leaders, and community leaders to come up with effective and realistic alternatives,” he said.

Bobby Jett, a co-owner and operator of the Moen Group, said he wanted to make sure Patel was not in favor of reopening the 21-ordinance before he backed him in the campaign.

“I want to just stress again that my campaign is not defined by the 21-ordinance … If elected, I have no plans for a repeal of the 21-ordinance,” Patel said. “I respect the democratic process. The community has spoken — the ordinance is law now.”

However, Jett brainstormed a few venues he said he would like to see downtown such as moving the Bijou and building a bowling alley and skating rink for students to use as nonalcohol options.

And Jett expressed confidence in Patel’s ability to serve on the council.

“Raj is someone adults wouldn’t run away from,” Jett said. “He’s mature, intelligent, and well-mannered.”

A UI student has not held a seat on the City Council since 1979, Patel said. And many said they support him because of his youth.

“It’s frankly undemocratic,” said John Deeth, a local blogger.” “[The town is composed of] 25,000-plus students who should be represented.”

And Jett agree.

“Patel will bridge the gap between the university and city,” Jett said.

Marc Moen, a co-owner and operator of the Moen Group, said he has always wanted a student on City Council but never found the right person — until Patel.

“I have never seen one [student] bring what he brings,” Moen said. “We generally don’t support candidates, but we’re blown away by Raj. We were impressed with his work. [He is] very grounded — aware of it all.”

UI junior Molli Kipp said the students need to be represented because they make up a huge majority, and Patel would be the perfect person.

“He’s a good person, good student, great leader,” Kipp said.

But supporters also expressed dissatisfaction with the direction the council has gone in recent years.

“They’re trying to scrub and sanitize Iowa City and take away [its] uniqueness,” Deeth said.

Patel said he plans to bring new ideas to the council and do his part to keep Iowa City vibrant.

“I plan to do this by promoting a sustainable future in Iowa City, by making sure Iowa City is attracting new businesses and by keeping Iowa City an attractive place to young professionals, families and the like,” Patel said. “I am the man with the vision.”


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