Meet the 5 candidates running in today’s Iowa City Council primary election

With voting underway in today’s City Council primary, the five candidates share their experience and platforms.

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Meet the 5 candidates running in today’s Iowa City Council primary election

During City Council election forum, candidates shared their vision for Iowa City at the Mill.

During City Council election forum, candidates shared their vision for Iowa City at the Mill.

Yue Zhang

During City Council election forum, candidates shared their vision for Iowa City at the Mill.

Yue Zhang

Yue Zhang

During City Council election forum, candidates shared their vision for Iowa City at the Mill.

DI Staff

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Five candidates will face off today to fill a vacant position on the Iowa City City Council. Ann Freerks, Ryan Hall, Christine Ralston, Bruce Teague, and Brianna Wills are competing for the seat once held by Kingsley Botchway, who resigned in July to take a position with the Waterloo School Board.

The two candidates with the most votes in today’s primary will move on to the Oct. 2 special election. The Daily Iowan spoke with all five candidates to learn about their platforms and experience. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Ann Freerks

Ann Freerks said she hopes to use her 33 years in Iowa City to better the community and promote diversity in the city.

“I have a vast knowledge of the Iowa City community,” she said. “I don’t want to walk into this with a long agenda but rather, understand the needs of the community and work toward the long-term goals.”

Freerks has worked for 17 years on the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission, has worked on the Historic Preservation Commission, and has served as president of the Longfellow PTA and president of the Longfellow Neighborhood Association. She serves on the advisory board for “Any Given Child.”

“A lot of great people in this community told me to run, so I told them, ‘We can do this, but you’ve got to help me do it,’ ” she said.

Freerks said she hopes to focus on affordable housing in the community and work to promote accessibility in the transportation system.

“We need to make sure we have jobs in many different places and everything is interconnected,” Freerks said. “When you look at one thing, you need to look long term.”

Freerks said she hopes to put an emphasis on adding more jobs, and she recognizes that the University of Iowa is an engine for creating jobs, but the community shouldn’t stop there.

“I come from a family where service is the norm,” she said. “I want to leave Iowa City better than where it started.”

Bruce Teague

Bruce Teague has lived in Iowa City for 25 years, graduating from Iowa City West, Kirkwood Community College, and the University of Iowa with a degree in psychology.

Through his involvement in the school system, he has worked as a caregiver for seniors and people with disabilities. Teague said he hopes to be a voice for people who may otherwise have been forgotten.

If elected, he said, he hopes the council will find a way to prevent clustering of affordable housing. The council has addressed the problem in the past, but he said he hopes the councilors will be able to spread affordable housing throughout the community.

Teague said he hopes to add to the inclusion part of the City Council’s strategic plan by taking steps to ask people to be a part of the community. He wants to have more educational opportunities for small-business owners, as well as have more university engagement with the community.

“I’m the type of person who likes to bring all of the yeses and noes to the table,” he said. “I believe it’s a disservice if we don’t listen to all of the opinions. After hearing everything, you can agree to disagree on some things and then agree on the things we can live with.”

Christine Ralston

Christine Ralston said she wishes to bring her extensive urban-planning experience to the City Council.

“I would say the most important problem facing the Iowa City community is affordable housing,” she said. “I think this is the key [to a lot of problems] — the concentration of affordable housing in certain areas is de facto segregation. A great first step toward affordable housing is the inclusionary zoning ordinance at Riverfront Crossing.”

In addition to serving as the director of Career Services at the UI College of Law, she has also been involved with various housing projects during her time in Iowa City. Ralston said her ability to solve problems creatively will benefit her on the City Council.

“I think the key for someone such as me is I know enough about enough things to also know what I don’t know,” she said.

In addition to affordable housing, Ralston also said she would advocate for a revamping of Iowa City’s transportation system to include expanded operation. This, she said, will give people an incentive to not only lessen their reliance on personal vehicles but also shop at local businesses.

Ryan Hall

University of Iowa undergraduate student Ryan Hall is making a second run for the City Council.

The environmental-planning student also pursued a seat on the council in the fall of 2017 election, receiving 41 percent of the vote.

Hall, who has served as the president of the River City Housing Collective and spent more than three years with AmeriCorps, said the top priorities for City Council would include promoting affordable housing, expanding public transportation, and taking action on climate change.

Hall wants to revamp the Iowa City public-transportation system to make it more effective and accessible, including having buses on Sundays. He would also like to enhance the city’s accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.

As a former home-energy auditor, Hall knows what needs to get done to make energy improvements for lower-income households. The council hopeful also hopes the city will invest more in energy efficiency.

Hall also hopes to raise the minimum wage for all city employees to $15 per hour.

“We’re unable to set a city minimum wage for other businesses because of legislation,” Hall said. “We can set the tone by just paying all of the city employees fair wages.”

Overall, Hall said, there is a lot of poverty and injustice in Iowa City and not enough is being done to remedy the issues.

“I’m also paying half of my income for rent — it’s ridiculous,” Hall said. “We’re just not doing enough for people who have to work several jobs to keep roofs over their heads. I don’t think those perspectives are on council or being taken seriously enough by our current council.”

Brianna Wills

Brianna Wills is heavily involved in the Iowa City community, including positions as a planning and zoning commissioner for the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and executive director of Old Brick.

Wills said some of the issues she would tackle if elected are food insecurity and budget management.

Her service has included working with the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program and Operation: Backpack to deliver food to students who couldn’t regularly eat.

“I think, really strongly, what I bring to the table is the interaction of all these groups,” Wills said.

Her campaign also focuses on such issues as transportation, infrastructure, environmental initiatives, and relationships among various city organizations, schools and colleges, and local businesses.

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