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One incumbent, three newcomers vie for at-large City Council seats

BY ASMAA ELKEURTI | NOVEMBER 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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Matt Hayek

Matt Hayek is the only incumbent in the running for the two at-large seats.

The current Iowa City mayor and attorney has family roots in Iowa City that date back to 1870. Hayek was president of Englert Theatre and has been the chairman of two different citizen commissions.

The 41-year-old candidate will focus on issues such as flood mitigation, public safety, support for expansion of the tax base, strengthening of neighborhood organizations, and support for the arts and culture scene.

Hayek said he intends to make the budget climate a top priority.

"We're in a much better shape than many other places around the state, but we cannot be complacent about these trends," he said. "I think we are taking active steps to streamline our operations and expand our tax base so we can be better prepared for what many people believe will be an indefinite economic stagflation and manager our way through these tougher times with better outcomes."

Hayek said he decided to run for the City Council in 2007 because he wanted to be a part of the decision-making process. He feels serving on the council a second time would add stability to the council.

Jarrett Mitchell

Jarrett Mitchell hopes to bring a voice to issues such as sustainability and bicycling as well as represent small businesses in the community.

The 33-year-old Iowa City resident said he is not only set apart by age but also by his strong advocacy to implement urban agriculture. As a councilor, he hopes to pass an ordinance allowing individuals to raise their own chickens.

The business owner said he feels qualified because he has "the courage" to run for council.

"I think we're all qualified to serve in representative democracy, and I think those who have the courage to step forward deserve to do so," Mitchell said. "That's what representative democracy is all about."

Mitchell is the owner of Wake Up Iowa City, a coffee shop located in White Rabbit, 109 S. Linn St.

Raj Patel

Twenty-year-old Raj Patel decided to run for City Council after his experience as the University of Iowa Student Government liaison.

"Although my opinion was highly valued by the council, I did not have a vote," he said. "I was motivated to run for City Council so I could have a vote and represent the entire Iowa City community."

As a potential councilor, Patel said hopes to bring jobs to Iowa City and expand the tax base. He said he feels regulations that make it harder for businesses to come to Iowa City need to be cut.

The college student said he has campaigned through all 25 precincts and has knocked on more than 5,000 doors.

Michelle Payne

Michelle Payne is a 45-year-old University of Iowa student, and she has been a resident of Iowa City for the past 15 years.

Payne said she decided to run for council after realizing she would soon be done with her UI schooling and wanted something else to jump into.

"I feel that this is a good time in my life to have the energy and the time to commit to being on City Council," she said. "I'm very interested in seeing our community grow and thrive and be a great place for people to live. I want to be a part of giving back to the community and being able to lead the community into the future."

The Planning and Zoning Commission member has also worked on the Board of Adjustments, putting her in contact with city officials on a monthly basis.

Economic development, business expansion, and community growth are all things she hopes to focus on if elected. Payne said she wants to maintain city services, such as positions in the government even when the city faces current and future economic trouble.


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