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Biden calls with congratulations as Coralville defies Koch Brothers

BY GRETA MEYLE | NOVEMBER 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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Despite pouring rain and winds, Coralville voters turned out in the highest numbers in history on Tuesday amid a number of local concerns.

“For the Coralville race I think it was the American’s for Prosperity group [that caused the high voter turn out],” Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert said. “I think that unsettled a lot of the local people, so they decided to get out and vote.”

John Lundell, winner of the mayoral position, received a unique surprise when answering a phone call from Vice President Joe Biden.

“He’d been following the race because of the [American’s for Prosperity’s involvement],” he said. “He wanted to congratulate the city of Coralville because ‘there was no place for that in politics.”

Weipert said Coralville has long seen high voter turnout.  In this year’s election, 2,820 people voted out of the 11,578 registered voters, 24.36 percent turnout.

With eight candidates battling for the three at-large seats on the Coralville City Counci, Bill Hoeft, Laurie Goodrich, and Thomas Gill earned the positions in the election. Gill gained 51 percent of the votes, Goodrich gained 40 percent, and Hoeft 56 percent.

“We’re going to carry on with exactly what we’ve been doing — building a better community,” Gill said. “Tonight is a moral effort celebration; we’ve proven that outside forces cannot influence an election.”

In light of these individuals seizing the reins, one of the overarching subject matters in question was how the candidates planned to conquer the city’s $279 million in outstanding debt and the direction of current developments, in regards to dealing with tax increment financing.

Incumbent Councilor Bill Hoeft said he is confident the city will pull its way out of the debt, specifically through the hotly debated Iowa River Landing, a 180-acre development built through the use of tax-increment financing.

“The strategy was that we tied a significant portion of our debt to the Iowa River Landing,” Hoeft said.  “We’ve utilized TIF to pay debt in the past quicker, so [the strategy would be] to get the evaluations up by making [the Iowa River Landing] successful quickly and that way more money will pour into the TIF district, and then we can pay of the debt faster. I am supremely confident that it will be a destination spot not only for Iowans but for surrounding states.”

Candidate John Weber said he believes the future council and administration will need to communicate with the public regarding new plans of conquering the debt.

“I think there’s a great plan in place,” Weber said. “It just needs to be broadcasted a little louder.”

In Coralville’s mayoral election, Lundell triumphed with 65 percent of the votes. Matt Adam took second with 27 percent of the votes, David Fesler with 4 percent of the votes, and Logan Strabala with 3 percent.

Lundell said he also plans to follow the current plan in paying back the debt encompassing the city of Coralville.

“The good thing is that Coralville is on a great course already,” Lundell said. “The Iowa River Landing is just starting to take off … [and] what pleases me about being elected mayor is having a great council elected with me.”

Hoeft said he is eager to work with the newly elected members towards a brighter future for Coralville.

“I’ve worked with [Tom Gill] for the past four years and there’s a huge learning curve with this job. You must reach out to people who have been here before you, and he has had the background to help me,” Hoeft said. “You pay it forward with this job and that my goal with Laurie. I will hope to be that person she can lean on for advice and historical perspective. I also want to thank Coralville, [they] really stepped up this year and I’m going to work my fingers to the bone for them for the next four years to show my appreciation.”

DI reporter Megan Deppe contributed to this story.


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