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Candidate hopes to be "champion" for city development

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | OCTOBER 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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Although one family member’s time on City Council will soon come to a close, Iowa City has not seen the last of the Champions.

Catherine Champion is running alongside three others in the race for two at large seats on Iowa City’s City Council. She said her decision to run was a natural transition after working on the Downtown District’s Board of Directors since 2007.

“I always wanted to do more and become more involved,” she said. “I had been thinking about widening my scope to the rest of the city, and running for City Council fit into that [idea].”

The 47-year-old owns two downtown boutiques — Catherine’s Boutique, 7 S. Dubuque St., and Cheap & Chic, 105 S. Dubuque St.

Although she is heavily involved in downtown, Champion’s platform is firm on developing all areas of Iowa City.

“One of the things that I am for is strengthening the core of our community,” she said. “We need defined business districts that have boundaries, and are a walkable distance for [all of our] neighborhoods.”

And Champion said this idea of reachable resources is something she has known as long as she can remember.

“That’s how it was when I grew up,” she said. “You walked everywhere or took the bus. So I think it’s important for amenities, grocery stores, and appointments to be reachable for people.”

According to one local official, Champion’s passion is an aspect the city has already began to grasp.

“Iowa City prides itself on gathering broad public input … in order to determine what the [citizens] value, and what the vision and goals are for the future of our community,” said Karen Howard, an associate city planner. “Based on this input, the city has adopted a comprehensive plan that covers all areas of Iowa City.”

One of Champion’s longtime family friends and coworker said Champion can reach  her objectives by utilizing her drive toward seeing all sides of any situation.

“She motivates people,” said Kara Schares. “She is open-minded, and she tries to include everybody in the decision she makes.”

Schares added despite Champion’s primary employment being downtown, she has the ability to reach all parts of Iowa City.

“I feel a lot of retailers that are downtown are just concerned with what’s happening in their little six block radius, but Catherine isn’t like that,” she said. “She has friends in every part of the city and she knows what’s going on.”

Champion said she is also supportive of city development through high rises, even though these projects have historically been controversial. 

“I think if we can build up and fit what we need within those spaces, then we have less chance of sprawling, and we can protect our neighborhoods,” she said.

The 21-ordinance — also a part of the Nov. 5 vote — is a policy that Champion said does not need to change.

“It’s a liability for the bar owner and the city,” she said. “I think if you want younger people to go to bars, then change the drinking age.”

Champion said she ultimately hopes to use downtown as a model for what each area of town can easily become.

“We are unified together,” she said. “We are leveraging each other’s strong points and strengthening the weaknesses. That’s something that can be picked up and disseminated all through town.”


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