Iowa City voters elect Laura Bergus, Janice Weiner to City Council at-large seats

Incumbents John Thomas and Pauline Taylor secured re-election to uncontested district seats. The council will boast a female majority after Tuesday’s results.


Shivansh Ahuja for The Daily Iow

Left: Laura Bergus speaks with The Daily Iowan in October 2019. Right: Janice Weiner speaks with The Daily Iowan in October 2019.

Hannah Rovner, News Reporter

Women will dominate the Iowa City City Council after Laura Bergus and Janice Weiner secured at-large seats to the governing body Tuesday night.

Megan Alter, Laura Bergus, and Janice Weiner had vied for the two available at-large seats on City Council. Incumbents Pauline Taylor and John Thomas kept their seats on the City Council after both ran uncontested in their respective districts.

The newly elected candidates begin serving their four-year terms in January 2020. Mayor Jim Throgmorton will not return to City Hall at the start of the new year, leaving the new female-majority council to elect a new mayor.

Gathered with supporters and friends at Big Grove Brewery Tuesday evening, Bergus and Weiner chatted with supporters as the election results came in.

After the results came in, Bergus said, “I’m very, very excited to serve the people of Iowa City, and can’t wait to congratulate my future colleague Janice.”

The two victorious candidates embraced as Weiner held her young granddaughter Alaska in her arms.

“I am excited to be out of the campaign phase, which is so go-go-go and ready to get to servicing my community,” Weiner said after her win.

With rooms separated by an industrial garage door, Big Grove Brewery bustled with voters young and old to show their support of Bergus and Weiner on Election Night.

One supporter, University of Iowa Law Professor Christina Bohannan, has been a resident of Iowa City for 20 years and is running for the Iowa House District 85.

“Tonight is a celebration of three incredible women who are all very strong candidates,” Bohannan said at Big Grove. “… This election is also a milestone because … we will have a majority-female City Council. Women have the power to change things and create a sense of inclusivity. This will be good for Iowa City.”

Big Grove Brewery was in sharp contrast to Alter’s watch party at the Mill as jubilation from Weiner and Bergus’ supporters was met with quiet conversation across town from Alter’s cohorts — among them Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton.

Over the past few months, the three candidates vying for City Council seats campaigned throughout Iowa City, hosting events on the UI campus at the IMU and around town at places such as the Dandy Lion and the farmer’s market to discuss their platforms with prospective voters.

All three women competing for the two available at-large seats sat down with *The Daily Iowan* in October to expand upon their platforms, elaborating on the issues salient to Iowa City voters — emphasizing affordable housing, public transportation, and diversity-related issues.

Weiner has stood on her “public service matters” platform all throughout the campaign season, touting her diplomatic background for giving her experiences she said would benefit her as a city councilor.

Bergus, a lifelong Iowa City resident, credits her roots and municipal background as a motivation for her City Council bid. As a city councilor, Bergus said she will make sure the government is fair and held accountable.

Zach Johnston, a consultant for Weiner, discussed how Weiner’s prior experience benefited her on Election Day.

“Her name is recognizable for a lot of Iowa City citizens due to her state Senate run,” Johnston said of her 2018 bid for the Iowa Senate District 37 seat that state Sen. Zach Wahls now occupies.

Bergus supporters Erin Pottebaum and Robin Kopelman discussed their support for the city councilor-elect over tacos and cheesy fries.

“Her experience as a mediator and strong communication skills make her a standout candidate, especially when a lot of the policy issues don’t vary too much,” Pottebaum said.

Although Alter said that Tuesday’s result “was not what [my supporters and I] wanted,” she took the Mill’s stage to thank her supporters and reiterate points from her campaign.

“… It’s so hard. I want to give a big shout out to those who have done it, and I want to give a big shout out to Laura and Janice,” Alter said. “We showed up, put the work in, and this is a really big win for Iowa City… I’m not going anywhere; you’re going to see me again.”

Charles Peckman contributed to this report.