Iowa City City Councilor John Thomas announces he will not run for re-election

After serving on city council for almost 8 years, District C representative John Thomas said he is leaving to focus more on his personal life and development.


Alyson Kuennen

City Councilor John Thomas addresses complaints regarding the new benches for the Pedestrian Mall at City Hall in Iowa City on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Some community members feel that the new benches are hostile to the homeless.

Isabelle Foland, News Reporter

After serving the city for almost 12 years in multiple roles, Iowa City City Councilor John Thomas is not seeking re-election this fall.

Thomas is in his second term, which ends on Jan. 2, 2024, on the city council and the current representative for District C.

Before his election onto the city council in January 2016, Thomas served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for three and a half years.

Thomas said in an interview with The Daily Iowan that he decided not to run for re-election because he wants more time to focus on his personal life and values.

“At this point, I feel I’ve contributed what I can to the issues that have faced the Planning and Zoning Commission and the city council and would like to sort of take a step back and try to get a sense of my personal trajectory and what that may be like going forward,” Thomas said.

In his nearly 8 years of service on the city council, Thomas said he is most proud of his contributions to making Iowa City more walkable and pedestrian-friendly, which is something he said he has always had a great interest in.

Thomas said he hopes whoever ends up being elected to replace him will keep in mind District C’s unique potential to become more walkable. He said he wants the council to continue improving neighborhood consistency in redevelopments and encourage the creation of neighborhood associations.

In the past, Thomas has advocated for accessibility in Iowa City, advancing biking culture in Iowa City, and said he was committed to looking at the demands of Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020 after they marched to his residence and the homes of other councilors.

Thomas also told the DI in 2019 that he planned focus on improving streets, affordable housing, and safety of vulnerable communities in Iowa City during his term.

While Thomas does not plan to act as a public servant anymore, he said he still plans to stay involved in the community following the end of his term.

Iowa City City Councilor Shawn Harmsen said the council and the community are lucky to have had Thomas serve and bring his various strengths and specialties to the council.

Harmsen said he is personally grateful for Thomas, who helped when he was first elected to council in January 2020.

“On more than one occasion, we would get together and go into a neighborhood, and we’d look at examples of things that maybe a homeowner had a question about, or we’d take a look at a variety of different things,” Harmsen said.

Thomas’ vast knowledge on planning and zoning matters has greatly helped the council, Harmsen said. He added he looks forward to seeing what else Thomas will accomplish in his remaining time left on the council.

“I think he has done a really good service for this community,” Harmsen said. “I think the community is better off for having had him on the council for the last seven years and change and for this final year.”