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The Iowa City City Council discussed the accessibility of Iowa City as a key issue for the candidates in the upcoming election

BY REBECCA MORIN | OCTOBER 23, 2013 5:00 AM

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Transportation and housing was the forefront of discussion for the prospective Iowa City City Council candidates.

In a Iowa City Public Library meeting room filled with students and community members, City Council candidates tried to explain why they are the most fit to help run the city.

The forum, hosted by the Johnson County League of Women Voters on Tuesday evening, provided an opportunity for citizens to submit a variety of hot-topic questions for the candidates to address.

One main community concern the candidates addressed was growth in the developing business districts in Iowa City, and how it should be accommodated.

Increasing affordable and diverse housing throughout the city were the main focuses of the majority of the candidates — but all agreed it is a multi-municipality solution.

“The City Council is looking at working with other entities, and we really need all other cities to jump on board,” Councilor Terry Dickens said. “There has to be some kind of give-and-take, and we need to look at outside areas, new areas … and affordable housing, which is important to have in neighborhoods.”

All the candidates — Councilor Susan Mims, Councilor Dickens, Catherine Champion, Rockne Cole, Kingsley Botchway, and Royceann Porter — were in attendance.

On Nov. 5, Iowa City residents will vote to fill two at-large seats on the council, as well as an additional seat open in District B — Dickens and Porter are the only two candidates eligible for the seat in District B.

Concerns on transportation were also brought to light with a master bike plan currently in place, candidates suggested revising current street landscapes to be safer for bicyclists.

“We have made modifications for certain streets, and new streets are built with bike safety and pedestrians in mind, that just encourages walkability and bicycling,” Champion said. “I grew up on a bike, I grew up walking, I grew up taking a bus, and I would like to continue with that.”

The current Riverfront Crossings development, which will allow for an array of building heights, were not a problem for all candidates except for one contender.

“If you go [to Des Moines] today, you will see something incredibly dynamic,” Cole said. “You’ll see a lot of buildings between eight and nine [stories] and sometimes even 11 stories, and you’re seeing robust commercial growth, but you’re seeing healthy neighborhoods.”

While some candidates disagreed on community issues, the candidates unanimously agreed to not repeal the 21-ordinance, which will be on the ballot once again on Nov. 5.

However, one candidate warned that in the end it would be up to the community to decide whether or not to repeal it.

“I had a little epiphany … we have binge-drinking, you can be 18 or you can be 36 and still make wrong decisions, but we’ll just see what decision the voters make on that day,” Porter said.


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