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UI Republicans: City Council ideals

BY GUEST COLUMN | OCTOBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Unless you have been camping out in College Green Park the past couple days, you probably heard about a little Iowa City primary election. On Nov. 8, voters in Iowa City will have the opportunity to fill two at-large seats and two district seats on the Iowa City City Council.

Local elections should be the most democratic of political contests. No big-money special-interest involvement, no partisan political group interference, no campaign contributions. Yet, when voters can't determine policy positions of candidates, democratic accountability is weakened. We would be impressed if a single reader could justify her or his vote in Tuesday's City Council primary besides simply "he is a student and understands my concerns" or "he was mayor, and that means he has experience."

In local elections, political inaction among students has become the norm. The hordes of Obama voters that swarmed campus in 2008 searching for "change" in D.C. don't seem to care too much about the local elections that fundamentally affect their day-to-day lives much more than the partisan bickering in Washington.

As a political organization, it is not our place to formally endorse or disavow any candidate for City Council in the pending nonpartisan election. However, as a student organization, we will lay out our platform for improving student relations with the Iowa City community. Iowa City is a diverse community with many issues facing citizens from downtown Iowa City to the Towncrest area to the Riverfront Crossings. With conflicting priorities for the candidates, it will be easy to forget the students' priorities.

From an economic standpoint, Iowa City needs to create an environment for businesses downtown, especially businesses that students will happily patronize. Some of us can remember the days when the Old Capitol Town Center was an actual mall, and not an abysmal food court with half the building owned by the University of Iowa. Some may even recall seeing the hottest new movies at the Englert and the former Old Capitol mall cinemas. Similarly, most of us can remember patronizing downtown bars that no longer exist because of City Council policies.

Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars a year to hire a Des Moines lobbyist, we could easily invest that money into a failing downtown. This money could be coupled with the bold yet common-sense approach of lowering various commercial-based taxes to incentivize business rather than run it away. Iowa City has a choice to make between facilitating an even bigger government that takes resources from its citizens or facilitating businesses and job creation that produce resources for their fellow citizens.

Despite the City Council's best intentions with the new 21-ordinance, the UI has moved up a few spots in the Princeton Review's party-school rankings to No. 4 in the nation. The failed policies of the City Council and university should be blamed, not the students.

The decisions by these two bodies have left UI's students with nothing to do and no incentive to try. College kids aren't difficult to entertain, but with no downtown movie theater, no convenient bowling alley, mini-golf course, laser tag, arcade, or social hangout, what else is there to do for a travel-restricted freshman?

College students are more than 35 percent of the population of Iowa City. Without college students, the economic engine of Iowa City would not exist. It's confusing then that the Iowa City community has made it a priority to blatantly work against students, whether it is obstructing student City Council candidates, imposing tailgating restrictions, or supporting the 21-ordinance. It's even more confusing that we as students continue to let them.

We are the 35 percent. It is time for students to rise up and #OccupyIowaCityCityCouncil

— University of Iowa College Republicans

The University Democrats' response appeared in Thursday's edition.


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