UI student among finalists for vacant city council position

Iowa City City Council narrowed the pool of 21 applications to seven finalists, with a decision expected on Tuesday.


Jeff Sigmund

Iowa City City Hall is seen on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Archie Wagner, News Reporter

The Iowa City City Council named seven finalists to fill a vacant council position following Janice Weiner’s resignation on Nov. 9 to represent Iowa Senate District 45. 

The council is expected to make a final decision on Tuesday during a special meeting, and the candidate selected will join the council for the remainder of the meeting.  

The appointment to the vacant seat would last for the one year remaining of Weiner’s term.

The finalists include:

  • Andrew Dunn, a former Iowa House District 90 candidate who ran in the Democratic primary and a former University of Iowa student. 
  • Na Li, the Iowa City Area Chinese Association President.
  • Former state Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. 
  • Sean McRoberts, a UI Wesley Center Director of Operations and Development. 
  • Joshua Moe, an OPN Architects project architect in Iowa City.
  • Mandi Remington, the director and founder of Iowa City-Cedar Rapids-based nonprofit Corridor Community Action Network. 
  • Elizabeth Miglin, a UI student and former city liaison for the university Undergraduate Student Government  

The finalists come from varying experiences in local government and activism in Iowa City. 

Dunn ran for the District 90 Iowa House of Representative seat in the primary election but lost. He studied political science at the UI and works as a legislative aide for Iowa Sen. Claire Celsi. 

Li, also a UI alum and adjunct professor in the department of Asian and Slavic Literature, serves as the president of the Iowa City Area Chinese Association and works as an activist for Asian Americans in the Iowa City community. 

Mascher served as a state representative in the Iowa House for 28 years, initially elected in 1995, before leaving office at the end of 2021. 

Mascher said she’s been focused on local work such as Habitat for Humanity. She said she was approached by people in the community who suggested she’d be a good fit to finish out Weiner’s term. 

“I love local government and politics and obviously believe that I can be more effective here right now at the local level, and it’s one of the reasons I kind of stepped away from the legislature,” Mascher said in an interview with The Daily Iowan. “I wanted to put more time and effort into some of the things that I care about here locally.”

She said she feels honored to be selected as a finalist. 

“That was a long list of people to choose from and to be a finalist is just truly an honor, and I’m excited about what we’ll be doing on Tuesday night,” Mascher said. 

McRoberts is an Iowa City community pastor focused on affirming gender and sexual identities within the spiritual community. They work as the director of operations and development for the Wesley Center at the UI.

Moe is a project architect in the Iowa City community and has experience consulting with the city and local nonprofits.

Remington said applying for a Iowa City councilor position has been on her mind for a while, and the current appointment process provided an unique opportunity. 

“It’s an amazing group of people that are on the finalist list with me and I’m very honored to be a part of that group,” Remington said. 

As the founder and director of the Corridor Community Action Network, Remington said she is in constant collaboration with residents and organizations to create a community that provides complete and unified services. 

After her experience using various ways to receive help in the community, like food banks and protective child care services, Remington said she wants to make those services more accessible for everyone.

“I have since become passionate about using the networking and community building skills that come naturally to me to assist the quality of life of others and make navigation easier for others,” she said.

Remington said continuing her work through city council seems like the natural next step in amplifying opportunities for the community. 

Miglin is a current UI third-year student studying poetry and international relations with previous experience as a city liaison for the UI Undergraduate Student Government. Miglin said she would continue their previous work addressing housing in Iowa City. 

“Since it is a shorter term period, it would be hard to start new initiatives, so I definitely expect different forms of addressing housing issues in Iowa City to be kind of a focus of mine,” Miglin said in an interview with the DI. “I’m really interested in six-month-long leases and exploring and starting those conversations with landlords to see how that could work here.” 

During Miglin’s time as city liaison for UI Undergraduate Student Government, she said one of their favorite projects was focusing on affordable housing for university students.

“It was hard to find someplace close to campus, as well as being reasonably priced,” Miglin said. “I just always heard these horror stories from other more senior students, and so I wanted to help address that.” 

Miglin created magnets with council members during her time as a liaison to provide resources for potential issues with rental companies, lease issues, unresolved repair, and housing discrimination. 

“That project kind of expanded into realizing how big of a problem lease gaps are for the Iowa City area, and how frustrating it is for both landlords as well as tenants to experience this up to four-week crunch of time where you have to find someplace else to store your furniture or take care of your pets,” Miglin said. 

In addition to the magnets, Miglin said she, along with their co-liaison, worked with the UI in providing affordable housing in the Iowa House Hotel and free parking at Hancher Auditorium. 

Miglin said she would also increase focus on alcohol safety on and off the UI campus in addition to the “community-wide interest” of sustainability. 

“I don’t want to narrow myself down to a one-ticket candidate, and nor is that even a good representative for the community,” Miglin said. 

Miglin said she traces her interest in city council back to her freshman year at UI during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I got involved with student government and then joined the city liaison team, and since then, I’ve just really enjoyed getting to learn more about the counselors and work with some really cool initiatives,” Miglin said.