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Officials encourage vote on 21-ordinance

BY REBECCA MORIN | NOVEMBER 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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It all comes down to today.

Iowa City residents and University of Iowa students will have the opportunity today to weigh in on the 21-ordinance debate.

The Iowa City City Council voted to include the 21-ordinance on the election ballot at its Aug. 6 meeting. Students and community members have fought to get each side heard in the past several weeks.

Michael Kessler, the Young Adults for Equality and Safety campaign commissioner, encourages students to vote Yes to repeal the ordinance. To prepare for today’s election, Kessler reminds students to vote by setting up a few tables at various residence halls.

Kessler said a couple of group members also made their phone numbers available for students to text their address to find the closest voting location.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen,” Kessler said. “It’s what the townies, or people who don’t go to school here, see as the safety aspect; the majority of students are all for repealing the ordinance, and so now we’re trying to just get them out to vote.”

On the other side of the spectrum, Tom Rocklin, a co-chairman of the 21 Makes Sense campaign, has also sent out emails and phone calls encouraging residents to vote on the issue.

“I think the people who have an interest in Iowa City and its vibrancy and safety will turn out to preserve the 21-ordinance,” said Rocklin, who is the UI vice president for Student Life. “When people vote, I hope they keep in mind the many improvements in the quality of life downtown and in neighborhoods surrounding downtown.”

As a larger push for students and community to vote, one City Council candidate believes the ordinance will stay in place and that exemptions should become the main highlight.

“I don’t think they’ll have the votes,” candidate Rockne Cole said. “Instead of 21 versus 19, we should look at what exemptions make the most sense; we should really want to focus on expanding exemptions for the music scene and to restaurants that don’t serve hard liquor.”

Councilor Terry Dickens, who is running for re-election to the council, said he believes the student vote will make a difference and could overturn the ordinance.

“I think a large student turnout could change the vote,” he said. “I have continued to support the current 21-ordinance and will do so in the future, because it has made the whole town a safer place.”


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