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

Longtime Iowa City city councilors attend their last meeting

Pauline Taylor and John Thomas were elected to the council together in 2015 and have served in their seats for the last eight years.
Sara Stumpff
Iowa City City Councilors Pauline Taylor and John Thomas pose for a portrait outside of Iowa City City Hall in Iowa City on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023.

In 2015, Pauline Taylor and John Thomas celebrated their election to the Iowa City City Council along with councilor Rockne Cole and former mayor Jim Throgmorton. All four of them made up the informal campaign coalition known as the “Core Four.”

Now, the remaining two members of the Core Four and current longest-serving councilors — Taylor and Thomas — have finished their eight-year terms on the council and will move on to other things. Their last meeting was on Dec. 12.

In April, Thomas announced he would not seek reelection to the council. In the general election in November, fellow councilor Laura Bergus ran against Taylor and won her for her seat on the council.

According to Taylor and Thomas, the members of the Core Four did not start their campaigns thinking they would be grouped together, but they eventually formed an informal team after realizing their policies and beliefs were closely aligned.

The group was especially aligned in their views on preserving neighborhoods and the role neighborhoods play in creating a strong city.

Before his time on council, Thomas said he was a neighborhood coordinator in the northside neighborhood as well as a commissioner on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. This passion for neighborhood development stemmed from his time as a landscape architect for over two decades in San Francisco before moving to Iowa City in 2009, Thomas said.

Thomas said a strong city depends on the many neighborhoods and subsections of a city.

“What you have in effect are a kind of a congregation of small villages or hamlets that are adjacent to one another and form this larger entity,” Thomas said.

While she did not have a background in city governance before she joined the council, Taylor, a graduate of the University of Iowa, said she ran for the council because she wanted to make changes she deemed necessary in Iowa City.

“I think we take it for granted sometimes what a great community we have,” Taylor said.

In their time on council together, Taylor and Thomas have advocated for affordable housing, development that is consistent with the surrounding neighborhood, climate action, and increasing the walkability of the city.

Taylor and Thomas voted together on the regarded Hickory Hill Park, which is located in northern Iowa City. In 2021, a development proposal for the area near the park came before the council.

The proposal wanted to build residential buildings near the east side of the park, which Thomas said he felt would damage the life and look of the park. Taylor later joined Thomas in being the only councilors voting against the development. The plan was eventually struck down.

Later, the developer came up with a new plan that compromised with the council’s wishes and gave 40 acres of land to expand the park, Thomas said. Taylor and Thomas said the decision was one of their proudest votes while on the council.

Throgmorton, a member of the Core Four, spoke highly of the group’s time on council. Some major accomplishments the group contributed to in the first of Taylor and Thomas’ terms were the passage of major action plans that are still used today, including the 2016 Affordable Housing Action Plan and the 2018 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, he said.

In their newfound free time off of council, Taylor and Thomas said they will spend more time doing hobbies and spending time with friends and family.

Taylor said the same, but she did not rule out running for a spot on the city council in the next election cycle.

“I’m not going to wither up and go away,” Taylor said. “I will be out there.”

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About the Contributors
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.
Sara Stumpff, Photojournalist
Sara is a third year UI student who transfered from Kirkwood. She is a "non traditional" student who will hopefully obtain her BFA in Photography and BA in Spanish.