The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Laura Bergus beats 8-year Iowa City City Council District A incumbent Pauline Taylor

Bergus has served as an at-large councilor since 2020.
At-Large Iowa City City Council member Laura Bergus addresses her supporters after results project her victory during her watch party at The Green House in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (Jordan Barry/ The Daily Iowan)

The leaves of the many plants in downtown Iowa City cocktail lounge The Green House shook with the cheers and applause of Iowa City City Councilor Laura Bergus’ supporters at her general election watch party Tuesday night.

Bergus beat Taylor in the race for the District A seat on the Iowa City City Council, which Taylor has held for the last eight years. Bergus received 5,942 votes, and Taylor received 2,995 votes, according to unofficial results.

Incumbent Pauline Taylor’s watch party in Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill was full of silence and disappointed glances on Tuesday at the television screen that broadcasted Taylor’s loss to Bergus.

In August, Bergus announced she would run for the District A seat rather than an At-Large seat because she now lives in District A after the districts were redrawn. District A comprises most of the South District and the west side of Iowa City.

Bergus has served as an At-Large councilor since 2020, advocating for racial equality and justice, sustainability, public transit improvements, and the development of public safety measures that do not rely entirely on law enforcement.

Taylor began her first term on the council in 2016 and served as mayor pro tem from 2018 to 2020. In her time as councilor, she has focused on the issues of health care, affordable housing, and child care.

The sitting councilors were split in their support between the two incumbent candidates.

Taylor has received support from fellow councilors Shawn Harmsen, John Thomas, and Mayor Bruce Teague in the form of campaign contributions, according to campaign financial reports.

Bergus did not receive any campaign contributions from any current councilors. Bergus raised over $5,800 for her campaign, and Taylor raised $4,070.

On Monday, Teague urged Iowa City residents in a Letter to the Editor published at The Daily Iowan to not vote for Bergus because of her anti-police policies.

In the letter, Teague also stated his support for Taylor in the general election.

Teague said he does not support Bergus because of her want to defund the police, and her voting against the city budget after her amendment to divert $1.6 million from police funding to mental health services in April.

“I have to balance my personal with what is best for this city and I would never put our city in jeopardy and vote no for no services. It’s irresponsible,” Teague said.

In response to Teague’s letter, Bergus said she had no prior knowledge the letter would be coming out and did not understand why Teague decided to publish it. She said this letter has put some strain on the council, but she will continue to find common ground among her colleagues.

“Setting my campaign completely aside, [the letter] is a pretty destructive move for a council as the team,” Bergus said. “But as I’ve said and as I’ve demonstrated, I am a conciliator, I do find common ground … and will continue to do so because that is what’s best for Iowa City.”

During the night of the election, Bergus maintained a strong hold on the district seat, leading by a thousand votes or more the entire time votes were being counted.

This election was not the first time Bergus received significantly more votes than Taylor. In the District A primary, Bergus received over half of the total votes with 372 votes of the total 649 cast. Taylor received 159 votes, and Republican candidate Tim Borchardt received 105.

Bergus said she plans to continue to pursue the work she has done in her time on council so far as well as build relationships with her fellow councilors, new and old.

In a speech at her watch party, Bergus said her resounding win against Taylor proves that Iowa City wants progressive policies.

Bob Jackson, an attendee who canvassed for Bergus, said he supports her because of her interest in making city services more accessible for all parts of the city.

Taylor said she was surprised by the results, but happy with the high turnout of voters. She said she felt good about her campaign, although it was difficult, she kept it positive.

In regards to Bergus switching districts earlier in the election, Taylor said she was shocked and hurt by Bergus’ decision.

Taylor said she probably won’t run for reelection and plans to spend more time with her family and grandchildren.

Tony Currin, a friend of Taylor and labor union organizer, said Taylor has served her two terms with honor and distinction.

“Pauline Taylor has lost nothing,” Currin said. “We lost the ability to have her represent us tonight.”

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.