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Four running for open mayoral seat in Coralville

BY JULIA DAVIS | OCTOBER 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Candidates vying for Coralville’s mayoral seat say the city’s financial situation continues to remain a central concern in the minds of citizens as the Nov. 5 election looms ever closer.

With the announcement earlier this year that 17-year Mayor Jim Fausett will retire at the end of his final term, four candidates have competed for votes. Current City Councilor John Lundell, attorney Matt Adam, David Fesler, and Logan Strabala each hope to become the new leader of the city of nearly 20,000 residents.

Although a variety of candidate opinions about the city’s financial condition exist, Fausett cited the topic as “a nonissue, as far as the election is concerned.”

Three of the candidates do not view the debt as a major concern, and they believe that Coralville is in a fiscally responsible position with regards to its financial status.

Fesler, who ran unsuccessfully for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors last year, called the debt “an investment,” before noting that debt is the wrong word to use when discussing the city’s finances.

“It’s not debt. There’s no such thing as debt until you’re broke,” he said. “The ‘debt’ is falling as we are speaking. The reduction of the debt has already been planned; it’s already been done.”

A number of Coralville developments that have moved forward during the past few years were identified as a key component to the city’s fiscal solution.

“Coralville has undeniably experienced a lot of rapid growth in the last 10 years, and the challenge with that is to not be complacent,” Adam said. “The No. 1 issue is to continue that growth, to continue that success, and doing so without increasing debt or overburdening the tax payers. We need to show Moody’s that we have control.”

Echoing those sentiments, Lundell said that while the economic state of Coralville is a significant issue, there is no reason to stop the development that the city has been working on.

“I certainly do not view the financial situation as a crisis,” he said. “It is of critical importance to monitor, but there’s no need to change the course of what we’re currently on.”

Strabala, a West High senior, stands as the lone opposition to developmental progress. He said he views the debt as a major detriment to the well-being of the city.

“Stop spending the money on projects, invest it in the city, and stop the Iowa River Landing project,” he contended. “The town’s going to grow or it’s not; we need to stop funneling money into a city if it’s losing that money.”

Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan hopes that whoever is elected will be willing to work with the county officials to achieve the necessary steps toward creating an improved comprehensive financial plan.

“I know that they’ve got a plan out there for how the debt is to be repaid,” he said. “I just would like to see every jurisdiction be much more judicious and work with the county much closer before they decide to spend more money.”

With the city’s economy taking center stage throughout the campaign process, voters have been following the pulse of the mayoral race closer than in past years, Sullivan said.

“It seems as though the people in this community are really paying attention, and that’s good, and so I hope they have a record turnout on Election Day,” he said.


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