City Council candidate Megan Alter hopes Iowa City can be ‘stronger together’

Megan Alter sat down with The Daily Iowan to discuss her platform of advancing racial and social justice, equity, affordable housing, and climate change, as she vies for one of two available at-large Iowa City City Council seats.

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City Council candidate Megan Alter hopes Iowa City can be ‘stronger together’

Hannah Rovner, News Reporter

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Since her move to Iowa City nearly 25 years ago, Megan Alter calls the area her home. Now, Alter aims to give back to the community that she said has been so generous to her as she runs for one of two vacant at-large seats on the Iowa City City Council.

Alter said her tenacity, passion, and drive led her to run for City Council. Alter also pointed to her many volunteering experiences as pivotal as well, saying she serves in Big Brothers and Sisters, the City of Iowa City Housing and Community Development Commission, and the Iowa Women’s Foundation. She currently works as a manager at ACT.

Alter said she will work to advance social and racial justice in Iowa City, create sustainable options for the community to combat climate change, and increase affordable and accessible child care if elected.

“One thing I have come to relish [about Iowa City] is how diverse it is,” Alter said. “It’s a strength of Iowa City, but we need to continue to strengthen our inclusivity.”

Alter said change starts within local government and simple policy changes.

As Iowa City grows, local government needs to strengthen the community by allowing access to the necessities of day-to-day existence, Alter said. For example, she said, affordable housing could alleviate need.

“There is a unique challenge because there is such a high proportion of rental needs within the student population,” Alter said. “But there is a notion that they are transient, always moving around.”

Alter said she hopes to find permanent solutions to help that transient population and will strive to help students with affordable housing.

“Right now, if your parents claim you on income taxes they become [essentially] your roommates and contribute to rent,” Alter said. “Almost always this puts students out of the running for affordable housing in student centric areas.”

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Alter added that vacancy rates are high and said students are the second most vulnerable population in housing security.

“Incentivizing landlords to lower rents [due to currently high rents],” Alter said. “There are empty units; the city could subsidize this and have units filled. Then landlords would be happy and people who need affordable housing have it.”

Alter emphasized her desire for racial and social equity in Iowa City.

“The way [we can advance this platform forward] is to listen,” Alter said. “It’s an easy answer — except it’s not. There are too many people in minority groups [that] have very different experiences than white people in this community. Their experiences are not counted as such.”

Currently in Iowa City, Alter said, the ratio of traffic stops by the police is two individuals of color to every one white individual.

“The police department and [University of Iowa] security need to pay attention to implicit bias and not to make assumptions,” Alter said.

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This could be a structured way to gradually improve racial equity in Iowa City beyond just listening, Alter said.

If elected, Alter said she hopes to move forward with the progress the city has already made in regard to its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.

“There needs to be a stronger conversation between the university and the city,” Alter said. “We need to be accountable and sit down and have these hard conversations.”

Alter discussed the possibility of making city-government vehicles electrically powered and said that may catapult change.

“We are going to be stronger together [as a city] if we tackle major issues together,” Alter said.

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