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Q&A with Coralville candidates informs public for election

BY JULIA DAVIS | OCTOBER 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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In light of municipal elections a mere three weeks away, the question of how City Council candidates would handle Coralville’s growing debt concerns took a front seat to talks Tuesday evening.

Hosted by the League of Women Voters, the City Hall forum served as an avenue for citizens and the candidates to outline their concerns on a number of city-related issues.

The eight City Council and four mayoral candidates answered audience from the roughly $279 million in outstanding debt to the idea of whether the city is ready for a full-time fire department.

Johnson County League of Women Voters President Barbara Beaumont was very pleased with the forum’s outcome, noting that it served its informative purpose.

“An informed public is an essential aspect of having a good government,” she said. “You can’t have good government unless you have people who know what’s going on.”

Matt Adam, David Fesler, John Lundell, and Logan Strabala, each running for mayor, were in attendance. Thomas Gill, Laurie Goodrich, Bill Hoeft, David Petsel, Jean Newlin Schnake, Chris Turner, John Weber, and Mark Winkler, candidates vying for the three at-large seats on the Coralville City Council were also present.

Opinions on how to handle the Coralville’s debt specifically, varied between candidates. Multiple references to tax increment financing — an economic development incentives, used to encourage private developer investment — “an investment in Coralville’s future” to the opposite perspective of the need to “just stop spending the money.”

The latter, was brought to the table by 18-year-old mayoral candidate Strabala.

Many candidates discussed the importance of the upcoming election and how it has particularly large implications on the future of the city, considering the current development and debt situation.

“As you consider who you’re going to vote for, consider the qualities and skills that they’re going to bring to change our city,” City Councilcandidate Mark Winkler said.

The small meeting room at Coralville City Hall where the forum was held was overflowing with citizens eager to learn about candidates. Because of the exceptionally large number of candidates running for office in the upcoming election, many citizens have found it difficult to find information about each and every one of said candidates.

“I decided to attend because I felt willfully ignorant about the people participating in this upcoming race, and I thought it was my responsibility to change that,” Coralville resident Jackie Saylor said.

City Council candidate Jean Newlin Schnake thought the forum was an important step in making sure the right candidates get elected in November.

“It is very important that everyone in the community be educated and aware of all the issues and where the candidates stand on them,” she said. “Not just the TIF, or the expenses, or the debt, but the big picture of what is good for Coralville, and how to make that work.”


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