Guest Opinion: Laura Bergus deserves a chance at Iowa City City Council

The founder of the Iowa Tenants’ Project supports Bergus for the Iowa City City Council, citing her pragmatic progressivism.


Contributed photo of Laura Bergus

As the founder of the Tenants’ Project, a Goosetown homeowner, and an early supporter of Rockne Cole when Rockne announced that he couldn’t run for City Council, I wasn’t sure where that left pragmatic progressives in Iowa City.

Too often the choice has been between the old guard, where a hidden inner circle doled out millions of city funds to select developers or a left who had their heart in the right place but were disorganized, dysfunctional, often focused on a single issue without considering the interests of all citizens, and were simply unable or unwilling to compromise and achieve tangible results.

I was therefore very pleasantly surprised last week when I had the chance to talk with Laura Bergus about her run for City Council. I liked that Laura rejected upfront TIF and insisted TIF be used only if the city gets a tangible benefit, not simply as a way to subsidize developers. Laura insisted, with regard to development, that she did not want to swing the pendulum back. Laura really appeared to be knowledgeable, excited about the opportunity to serve on the council and with a realistic understanding of what is necessary to run the city.

What I was most impressed with was her desire to straddle, as she put it, between two sides on council and try to broker compromise on a broader level in the city between developers, realtors, and inner core neighborhood residents, for example.

Laura definitely told me what I wanted to hear, which is that pragmatic progressive action is still possible in Iowa City. I’m voting for Laura Bergus for City Council because I think she deserves a chance to try to square the circle between the discredited old guard and the dysfunctional side of the left and to work for dialogue and compromise across the spectrum in Iowa City. The stakes are high, and the whole city will be watching; I very much want Laura to succeed with everything she told me.

Christopher WarnockIowa Tenants’ Project founder

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