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Council hopeful Mitchell runs on sustainability

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Iowa City City Council candidate Jarrett Mitchell wants voters.

But even if they don't vote for him — a candidate becoming increasingly defined by his sustainability goals — he just wants them to vote.

"I'm determined with the message: Even if I don't make it past the primary elections, I'd like this year to be the biggest voter turnout," he said. "I think early voting and absentee voting are the way of the future."

Mitchell said he'd like to see 30 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots for the Nov. 8 election.

Still, his push to get past the Oct. 11 primaries is now underway. He held a public rally Wednesday at College Green Park in which he continued to emphasize sustainability. He called it an "unofficial collaboration" with the Iowa City Farmers' Market, noting he'd like attendees to bring food from the market.

"We're trying to make this a weekly event to get to know each other," Mitchell said, standing in a gazebo with his two-person entourage. "And basically build momentum toward the primary coming up.

Mitchell has become known for his goal of passing an ordinance to allow the agricultural use of chickens in residential areas to promotes self-supporting practices, as well as increasing local environmental efforts.

Bill Adams, Mitchell's longtime friend, said he supports Mitchell's sustainability platform.

"I agree with what he stands for, with the chickens for example," he said.

Adams also said he believes Mitchell's platform would allow residents more personal freedoms and responsibilities.

"It's common sense," Adams said. "In that regard, I like where he's coming from with more cycling and more urban farming. They're not massive changes. They're not going to turn people on their heads. They're smart."

Instead of ordering T-shirts and fliers for the campaign, Mitchell asked the 20 attendees of last week's event to help with marketing the campaign. He said he plans to spend no more than $1,200 on the run.

Mollie Goldstrom, a UI second-year graduate student and avid cyclist, said she's a "big supporter" of Mitchell's campaign.

"Everything in his campaign is central to my place, and is important to the vitality of Iowa City and what makes it unique."

As for the chickens, Goldstrom said she's on board.

"I think for what they require to keep them alive, they would be wonderful things to encourage because it would encourage people to produce what they need for themselves, which is a good thing in general."

But besides the chickens and the low-cost campaign, age sets Mitchell apart from the current councilors. He's only 33 and as a University of Iowa alumnus, Mitchell said he thinks he'll be able to properly represent the interest of the city's college students.

"I think it'd be a positive thing to have a young runner," Adams said.


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