Laura Bergus aims to bring local-government experience to Iowa City City Council

: Laura Bergus, an Iowa City native, sat down with the Daily Iowan and shared her views on issues like climate change, diversity, and affordable housing solutions.

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Laura Bergus aims to bring local-government experience to Iowa City City Council

City Council candidate Laura Bergus sits down for an interview with The Daily Iowan in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

City Council candidate Laura Bergus sits down for an interview with The Daily Iowan in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

City Council candidate Laura Bergus sits down for an interview with The Daily Iowan in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

City Council candidate Laura Bergus sits down for an interview with The Daily Iowan in the Adler Journalism Building on Monday, Oct. 21, 2019.

Hannah Rovner, News Reporter

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Iowa City native Laura Bergus is throwing her hat in the ring for one of the two Iowa City City Council at-large seats up for grabs Nov. 5.

In high school, Bergus worked as a City Council intern and taped the group’s meetings. She went on to become the telecommunications director for the City of North Liberty. Now, Bergus serves as an attorney in her hometown of Iowa City.

“I am running due to previous experiences with municipal governance throughout Iowa City and North Liberty,” Bergus told The Daily Iowan. “These reasons are why I am returning [from law school] to run as an elected official.”

Bergus attributed her interest in running for an elected position to her background in local government and explained how that weaves into the issues she cares about most.

“My top issues are substantive, as in the majority of the council already agrees upon these issues — those [issues] being affordable housing, regional transportation, and climate change and the climate crisis that the city recently adopted,” Bergus said.

Bergus said she would stay focused on implementing the city’s strategic plan and policy level issues if elected.

“I hope to build consensus on the council and taking the strength of this to act more decisively and quickly on these issues I care about,” Bergus said.

Bergus said she would use her position as a city councilor to fight climate change and ensure the city’s Climate Action Plan is implemented in all aspects. This issue shouldn’t be singled out, Bergus said, because it requires expediency.

“It needs to be across the board — if there is a policy or proposal, there should be some type of analysis as to how it can affect the environment,” Bergus said.

Public education and public communication are integral to Iowa City’s climate crisis, Bergus added, and so is delivering information about it to every person who lives or interacts in the city.

“We should be [providing] this information so citizens know how they can make an impact in the fight against climate change,” Bergus said.

Bergus’ campaign promises to honor “diversity, equity and inclusion,” according to its website.

“[Diversity, equity, and inclusion] has to lay into every single thing the city considers and decisions the city makes,” Bergus said.

She referenced the existing Social Justice and Racial Equity Toolkit in Iowa City — toolkits that help city staff in different departments to effectively collect data, amplify community voices, and prioritize racial equity in decision-making.

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“It has been applied in every department [the city has] one at a time, but we need to make sure this continues,” Bergus said.

Bergus added that the city needs to better explain the toolkit’s role to the community and emphasized the need for more communication with citizens on this pressing issue.

Bergus also addressed concerns about off-campus housing for university students and the current development of luxury student housing, which she said is not affordable.

“[Considering] the density with the city core and the compliance with the Affordable Housing Action Plan, this should be lowering rents in outer areas,” Bergus said.

If vacancy rates go up, there will be a downward pressure on rents, Bergus said. The Iowa City Tenants Union is working to advocate for tenants and can help in the arena of affordable housing, she added.

Bergus emphasized that she ultimately would like to see voters turn out at the polls on Election Day Nov. 5.

“I hope students vote,” Bergus said. “They are the fastest growing voting block, and I just hope they utilize that.”

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