City Council candidates hold public forum to communicate with students

Iowa City City Council candidates Ann Freerks and Bruce Teague, in conjunction with the UISG, participated in a forum to discuss their platforms with student voters.


Megan Nagorzanski

Candidates Bruce Teague and Ann Freerks debate during a UISG election forum at the IMU on Sept. 19, 2018. The debate allowed each candidate to discuss their plans for Iowa City regarding topics such as off-campus housing and transportation.

Christopher Borro, News Reporter

Following the special primary on Sept. 4, two candidates remain in the competition for the vacant Iowa City City Council seat. Ann Freerks and Bruce Teague participated in an hour long public forum in conjunction with the UISG on Wednesday evening to connect with student voters and explain aspects of their platforms to community members.

Freerks is a former member of the Iowa City Planning & Zoning Commission and a volunteer and a designer in the UI Office of Strategic Communication. Teague is a volunteer worker and the owner of Caring Hands and More Home.

In the primary, Freerks received 1,062 votes, and Teague received 815. Overall, fewer than 9 percent of the Iowa City electorate voted.

The UISG partnered with the Hawkeye Caucus to promote voter registration outside the IMU Iowa Theater, where the forum took place.

“The goal is to get both students and the community more engaged in local politics,” said Gustave Stewart, the UISG city liaison.

Stewart said his time as deputy city liaison during a similar candidate forum in 2017 helped him prepare for hosting the forum on Wednesday.

“The city plays an important role in our daily lives, and a lot of the time we’re unaware of that,” he said. “So, whether it’s housing affordability, housing quality, public transportation, public safety — it’s a whole range of issues that affects us, and we have a voice in the election.”

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About 20 people, a mixture of students and residents, attended the forum. A number of those who attended were members of the UISG.

Freerks and Teague, both UI graduates, discussed their history with the university and the Iowa City community during their introductions. Deputy UISG City Liaison Austin Wu asked six selected questions to the candidates, and then attendees asked Freerks and Teague questions about their platforms.

Freerks noted the variety of public-service positions she has held when she introduced herself.

“In a special election like this, I feel like I could step right into the position and be able to make a difference,” she said. “I understand how the city works and know what needs to happen … I just want to do my part to make [Iowa City] better than when I arrived.”

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Teague listed the various local businesses and volunteering efforts he has been a part of.

“I think that my opportunity to sit on the City Council will bring that 25 years of engaging with the community and bringing those voices to the table,” he said. “I know there’s a lot that the University of Iowa and the city need to partner on.”

The audience posed questions regarding a number of issues, including landlord-related problems, illegal immigration policies, partnerships and cooperation between Iowa City and the UI, environmental-sustainability goals, and aiding the homeless.

The last audience question asked Freerks and Teague how they would keep in contact and engage with the community. Freerks then asked the audience their favorite aspects about Iowa City.

The special election will take place Oct. 2.