First night mayor in the city leaves position for Los Angeles

After being hired in 2017, Angela Winnike worked with local businesses to facilitate Iowa City’s night life. She left this weekend for a new job in Los Angeles.

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First night mayor in the city leaves position for Los Angeles

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Caleb McCullough, News Reporter

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The country’s first night mayor has said farewell to the city she’s long called home.

Angela Winnike was hired in April 2017 as Iowa City’s first-ever night mayor, a position that she said was the first of its kind in the country. After a year and a half as night mayor, Winnike left the position this past weekend for a new job in Los Angeles.

“It was something new, so there were no expectations, which always makes a job easier and harder at the same time,” she said.

The night-mayor position was created as part of an initiative to encourage activities and support the nighttime economy, said Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District.

“We really felt like we needed to be deliberate to encourage people who hadn’t been downtown in a while … to come and just invite people back to see the project,” Bird said.

Winnike worked with local bars and restaurants downtown to organize nighttime events. She said she worked in harm reduction, leading alcohol-safety initiatives with business owners downtown.

RELATED: Iowa City Nighttime mayor to leave position

Pints manager Taylor Riedemann has worked closely with Winnike since she started as night mayor. He said she worked to get Pints involved during RAGBRAI and other big events in the city.

“She’s always fighting for us,” Riedemann said. “She’s made it really easy for us to just make the most of it.”

Winnike said she worked as a communication bridge between downtown businesses and the city, which was important in preserving relationships. Because most restaurant and bar owners are not at work during traditional business hours, Winnike said, it’s important to preserve communication between them and city officials.

Winnike said one of the major goals of her work was getting UI students involved in the nightlife. She has partnered with Campus Activities Board, as well as Graduate and Professional Student Government to connect UI students with resources and get them involved.

“Doing events that don’t involve alcohol but are still fun, for me, was really important,” she said.

One of the biggest events that Winnike organized was the Downtown Block Party, which she said drew 45,000 people in 2017. Winnike said the block party was a great example of an all-ages event that everyone in the community could be involved in.

“The ability for this community to come together and just have fun like that, that’s what our nightlife does on a regular basis,” she said.

As one of the first people in the country to occupy this kind of role, Winnike said she was able to be part of a national network of night mayors created after appointment, helping cities that want to create a similar position.

The network was started by Winnike and the night manager in Pittsburgh and includes such cities as San Francisco, Seattle, and Orlando.

The Downtown District will refocuse the role of the night mayor, Bird said, and officials will find a replacement for Winnike in February. They will conduct surveys with downtown business owners on how to best change the position.

“We’re really exploring the next steps,” Bird said. “We’ve learned so much in the past couple years about what’s happening downtown.”

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