The Daily Iowan

Local Election Meet the Candidates


Iowa City City Council at-large

Bruce Teague 

Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague encourages people to vote during a rally for voting rights at the Pentacrest on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. (Jerod Ringwald)

Occupation: Iowa City Mayor, CEO and Founder of Caring Hands and More

Top priorities:

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Teague said affordable housing, climate action, and social justice would be his priorities in his first full term on the council. 

“Affordable Housing…is pretty critical. It really does talk to the fact that housing is a human right. And I believe that is at the forefront of what the city believes, we have to put more money behind it. But it’s not only a city effort, it has to be community as well,” he said. “…We also have climate action which I think the city has done really well to create the urgency within our community. But we still need to do more activity. We’re making some strides and we have a lofty goal to accomplish by 2030, 25 percent net zero emissions and in 2050, zero. So in order to get there there’s a lot to be done. 

“There’s many, many more other priorities which I know we’re going to talk about, Black Lives Matter and social justice. And that is pretty critical that in the forefront of our minds that we continue to have that not only on one agenda item, but also systemically looking at it throughout every policy that we do have any programs that we have at the city.”

Policing: 

Teague said he thinks the Iowa City Police Department is dedicated to keeping Iowa City safe, but he said there are still disparities in policing in Iowa City that need to be addressed. He noted that since the passage of Iowa’s “Back the Blue” Act in May, local governments can’t restrict their police departments from stopping drivers for secondary offenses, which Iowa City attempted to do last year. 

“We can’t say, ‘Look the other way,’ I’m not suggesting that, and since that came out I won’t suggest that, it’s against the state law. But I do believe that still having educational opportunities and showing people, because police do still have discretion on a lot of their interactions…and I think just making sure that there’s training to the police department, and we can include training that shows disproportionate rates that blacks are, and other minorities as well, getting citations from police officers,” he said.

American Rescue Plan:

Teague said he’d like to see some of the $18.3 million the city will be receiving in federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated to excluded workers, workers who were left out of the three federal COVID-19 relief payments.

Beyond that, Teague said he wanted to partner with Johnson County in order to find ways to best allocate the money and ensure that the city and county aren’t providing the same services. 

“The council wanted to partner or seek opportunities to partner with Johnson County, because they also have money, and so we thought instead of duplicating of services that will be more collaboration and coordination,” he said.  

Megan Alter 

Megan Alter poses for a portrait on Friday, April 2, 2021 in front of the Broadway mural in Peppermint Plaza. She announced her second run for Iowa City City Council with a small outdoor gathering. (Daniel McGregor-Huyer)

Occupation: Senior Manager at ACT 

Top Priorities: In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Alter said her top priorities are affordable child care, bringing retail to the city’s South District, and affordable housing. 

“I buy my socks for my children at the Waterfront Hy-Vee, right next to the sliced deli cheese because that is the only place in the South District that you can buy new basics,” Alter said. “That’s inconvenient for me, but for somebody who is working a couple of jobs, or has public transportation as their only means, it becomes not just an inconvenience, but a major time suck to go all the down Highway one to Walmart, or to take your dollars out of Iowa City to Coralville to the mall.” 

 Policing 

Alter said in her interview with The DI that the Iowa City Police Department should discontinue the use of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Mine Resistint Ambush Protected vehicle, and the MRAP  should not be replaced with the proposed alternative, a smaller Bearcat vehicle. 

“It looks scary. It is a militarized vehicle, and then the Bearcat just looks like a smaller version of it,” Alter said. “There are other options — I’m all in favor of keeping civilians, and the police, safe, but it doesn’t need to look like they’re coming after the very people that they’re trying to help.” 

Alter also supports diverting 911 calls for mental health crises to appropriate mental health support staff, rather than police, and limiting civilian interaction with police through eliminating unnecessary traffic stops. 

American Rescue Plan:

Alter said she supports using ARPA funds to create an excluded worker fund. She added that some of the funding should be used to bolster community support systems to help excluded and other workers in the case of a future emergency like the pandemic. 

“I think that we can use some of this ARPA money to be able to invest in sort of the ecosystem and infrastructure of people, and what’s going to help support them and lift them out of say poverty or to, so that they’re not having to work three essential jobs, and not have the choice to be able to stay home,” she said.

Jason Glass

Jason Glass, 44, is an Iowa City resident. Glass plans to run in the November 2 Iowa City City Council election. (Contributed )

Occupation: University of Iowa business instructor

Priorities: 

Glass told The Daily Iowan his priorities are improving public safety and addressing gun violence, and directing American Rescue Plan funds to direct payments to those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. 

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve had five homicides in town using firearms… So it’s not happening in any one part of town, which I think sometimes is the perception, but it’s happening in Ped Mall, it’s happening on the east side. And I’m concerned that we’re really not talking about solutions and prevention.”

Policing:

Glass said he thinks Iowa City has a pretty good police department, noting that there hasn’t been a shot fired from an officer at a person in the line of duty since 2019. He said he’d want to accelerate neighborhood policing and foster positive relationships between people and police. 

“It’s easy for me to say build trust between police and community and that’s… It fits on a bumper sticker, that’s not a solution,” he said. “But from that goal, what are some steps, what are specific things we can do to try to build, to try to build that back up again.”

American Rescue Plan:

Glass said he’s in favor of giving direct payments to excluded workers equal to the payments those covered by federal benefits got, around $3,200. He said it’s hard to gauge how many people are eligible for that, so he’s unsure of the dollar figure.

Other areas he’d like to devote the money to include accelerating climate change goals and providing mental health and substance abuse treatment, he said. 

Iowa City City Council District 1

Shawn Harmsen

Occupation: Coe College journalism instructor

Priorities: 

Harmsen said his goals were to work on economic equity, racial equity, and social equity in the city. He also said he wants to advocate for affordable housing. 

“Economic justice would include things like the dignity of workers, the need to have a living wage for workers, to make sure that workers are not misclassified,” he said.

Policing: 

Harmsen said the city should reorient its thinking from “policing” to “public safety.” Treating mental health and economic crises don’t always need a police response, he said. Harmsen said he’d like to see the city continue to move toward mental health professionals and social workers deal with nonviolent calls for service.

“People that have the experience and the focus and the drive, people that want to do that kind of a thing, that that’s what they’re called to do, are going to be more effective at it,” he said. 

American Rescue Plan funds:

Harmsen also said a significant portion of the American Rescue Plan dollars going to the city should be devoted to excluded workers who didn’t receive federal benefits. 

“We gotta take care of people’s basic needs first, so that’s the short term,” he said. 

Beyond that, Harmsen said he wants to use the money to focus on long-term needs like rehabilitating housing units or addressing transportation issues.

Mayor of Coralville

Meghann Foster

Age: 46

Occupation: Community Engagement Coordinator, Domestic Violence Intervention Program; Instructor, University of Iowa

Why are you running for Coralville City Council?

 I am running because I love Coralville and I have enjoyed serving my community as a council member. I want Coralville to be a place where everyone feels welcome and has access to the resources they need to build a safe and happy life. I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made in Coralville. As Mayor, my focus will be on building on our successes by making sure our community safety net is strong. I will continue to prioritize affordable housing, increasing access to resources, and making sure we are reducing as many systemic barriers as we can. 

What are your top three priorities for the city, if elected?

  1. Expansion of Social Services: I will look for ways to pursue funding & community partnerships between the city, non-profits, & businesses. I would like to increase our human services budget & create a social services hub in Coralville so our residents have easier access to services.
  2. Affordable Housing: I would like to create an affordable housing fund for Coralville. We also need to explore partnerships & projects that will increase housing options for residents at 30% AMI or below.
  3. Racial justice, inclusivity, removing systemic barriers: We must examine our programs, policies, & systems to ensure we are truly being inclusive. As Mayor, I will work on increasing the diversity of our city boards and commissions. We must make sure these changes have a real impact & are not just performative in nature.
  4. Community development & economic development: We must look at economic development from a broad perspective that includes access to services & amenities.

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent on?

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent? My priorities for ARPA funding include restoring revenue loss so the city can restore programming and jobs that were lost due to Covid-related budget cuts, creating a social services and affordable housing fund, and payments to an excluded workers fund. 

Coralville City Council

Laurie Goodrich

Age: 66

Occupation: Senior Director of Athletes in Action at Iowa

Why are you running for Coralville City Council?

I’ve enjoyed being an active member on the Coralville Council for two terms. I’m informed about policy and ordinance, while working together with staff on some great initiatives over the years. I embrace the task and count it a privilege to give back to the community that has provided so many opportunities to our family, as well as all families in Coralville.

What are your top three priorities for the city, if elected?

  1. Public Safety – Police, Fire, Ambulance. I am dedicated to constant evaluation and adaptation of procedures during these next few years to promote safety and productivity for our employees and all residents in order to be able to continue the services we have all grown to expect.
  2. Strong Infrastructure – water, sewer, gas & electricity & solar, transit, broadband, etc.
  3. Economic Growth/ Community Development – Our community plan calls for robust business growth and a mix of housing styles – something for everyone.

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent on?

Coralville will receive just a little over $3 million which mostly will go to offset expenses occurred during the pandemic. I am dedicated to staying vigilant in keeping up to date with programs such as the American Rescue Fund Plan and to use such resources in a sustainable manner – expansion of Coralville’s Food Pantry for instance which benefits many individuals. As Congress finalizes the bills they are currently working on, there will be many opportunities for additional funds to come to Coralville through federal grants. As a member of the city council, I will continue to look for projects in our community that will be appropriate to access funds.

Hai Hyunh

Age: 44

Occupation: Community Projects Coordinator with Coralville Food Pantry

Why are you running for Coralville City Council?

I love Coralville, my home for the last 20 years. This is where my family has spent countless hours enjoying Coralville’s many amenities and devoting ourselves to its school and community organizations. Over the years, I have served my community in many different ways. That gives me a unique glimpse into countless stories about a lack of resources and support in Coralville and policies that are not serving all of our residents. When a seat became open on the City Council in the summer of 2020, I decided to ask my community for their trust to be a voice of representation that is often missing at the discussion table; with the power and influence to make positive, tangible change for our most vulnerable neighbors. I was honored to earn their trust serving as the first-ever Vietnamese American elected to any political office in the state of Iowa. I am now asking my community to trust me to serve them for a full term of 4 years.

What are your top three priorities for the city, if elected?

 If re-elected, my three top priorities are COVID-19 recovery, addressing the need for affordable housing, and advancing racial and economic justice.

The pandemic has devastated our community in many ways. In our quest to “return to normal,” we must prioritize tangible and robust relief for our neighbors who have been impacted gravely by COVID-19 — economically, emotionally, and physically. We must work to ensure that our community returns to a better normal in the months and years ahead. That includes prioritizing American Rescue Plan funds to help the most people as possible, especially those who were excluded from any federal or state relief in the past two years.

Housing is a right, and every single one of our neighbors deserves a home that’s safe and affordable. We cannot be idle as many continue to become priced out of Coralville. We must continue to work on protecting existing affordable options and invest in affordable housing projects, especially those that do not cost more than 30 percent of a person’s income.

We can advance racial and economic justice by increasing financial support for vital community resources like human service agencies, nonprofits, and community groups working to reduce poverty, racism, violence, and injustice in our community. We must direct our resources towards supporting BIPOC-owned businesses and initiatives. Finally, I will work with our new Police Review Board to amplify concerns and take steps towards improving public safety for all. 

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent?

I would like to advocate for the American Rescue Plan funds to be spent on supporting local social service agencies that help our most vulnerable neighbors; help workers excluded from past and ongoing federal and state relief to get back on their feet; invest in mortgage and rental assistance, rent and utility assistance program, and support small local businesses who did not have access to PPP loans and other federal assistance. Though it’s tempting, I don’t believe we should utilize all of ARPA funds to make up for the city budget shortfalls.

Mike Knudson

Age: 60

Occupation: Physician/Professor of Pathology; Medical Director of the DeGowin Blood Bank and Donor center at UIHC

Why are you running for Coralville City Council?

I have volunteered/served in various capacities for the city of Coralville for a long time and now that I have fewer personal commitments I felt like it was a great time to increase my service so that I could have an even larger positive impact on Coralville.

What are your top three priorities for the city, if elected?

I would like the city to help facilitate the private development of the area west and south of the 1st Ave/2nd St interchange. This is a very attractive location for both businesses and dense residential living if it can be redeveloped. I would also like the city to develop

plans to address the infrastructure challenges in “original” Coralville including water, sewer and electrical grid challenges. Finally I would like to see Coralville expand/improve its recycling programs/facilities.

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent? Would advocate that the areas hit hardest by the “COVID-19” cuts be prioritized to receive this funding. This includes the Parks and Recreation department.

Cindy Riley

Age: 60

Occupation: Small business owner, technology consultant 

Why are you running for Coralville City Council?

I want to continue to build Coralville into a successful community that is a great place to raise a family. 

What are your top three priorities for the city, if elected:

  1.  Promote financially stable and environmentally friendly development in Coralville by attracting businesses (small and large) that will employ area residents so they can make a fair wage and raise healthy, happy families.
  2. Support the residents of Coralville by promoting affordable housing, affordable childcare and other support they may need to help them secure a good job and a good life in Coralville.
  3. Make Coralville a community that celebrates a healthy lifestyle and provides great recreational activities.

What would you advocate for American Rescue Plan funds to be spent?

I believe any available funds should address my 3 priority items.  Business growth requires a solid employee base. I would like to see focus on the relationship between local businesses (existing and new) and employees. This includes incentives for businesses to locate in Coralville and open conversations around what Coralville residents need to live and work in Coralville. Items to consider to help enable a solid workforce include: 

  • Transportation enhancement thru ride shares – both bicycle and cars.
  • Affordable work force housing.
  • Childcare support programs – specifically age 0-4.
  • Environmental initiatives including single stream recycling and focus on clean energy including items like solar array covers in parking lots.

Iowa City School Board

Krista Burrus

Age: 41

Occupation: Education researcher

Why are you running for the school board?

I am running for the ICCSD school board because I want to ensure that all students in our district have equal access to a high-quality education. I live in Iowa City & have two children attending elementary school in the ICCSD; thus, I have a vested interest in the success of our school district. As a community member, I know how important a high-quality K-12 education is for opening doors for all our children to have successful, rewarding adult lives. This is not only good for each and every one of our students but is good for our community as a strong educational system promotes economic growth locally. By the same token, I also know how limited access to a high-quality K-12 education can close those doors. 

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected?

My top priorities will focus on three broad areas: (1) student preparedness, (2) equity, and (3) whole child – using data, science, and evidence to drive decision making in each of these areas.

  1. Student preparedness. Advocate for the allocation of resources in ways to best promote improved learner outcomes to support the district’s goals articulated in the comprehensive school improvement plan, with a focus on increasing the percentage of ICCSD students on track to college and career readiness across the K-12 continuum.
  2. Equity. Continue the work the board has done on developing the comprehensive diversity, equity, and inclusion plan, with a focus on closing achievement and opportunity gaps as well as increase diversity of school staff to resemble that of our community
  3. Whole Child. Build upon the Portrait of a Graduate Initiative to infuse social-emotional learning and education and career counseling in the curriculum to ensure our students leave the ICCSD well-rounded, life-ready individuals. I also want to focus on programs and initiatives that help support students with the identification of college majors and/or career pathways that align with their passions to help support the post-high school transition.

J.P. Claussen

Age: 48

Occupation: Educator on the inpatient child and adolescent psychiatric unit at UIHC

Why are you running for the school board?

I am running for reelection in order to continue the district’s focus on our equity initiatives to ensure that we are a top tier district for every single student.

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected?

  1. Implement our Diversity Equity and Inclusion plan.
  2. Continue improvements in how we deal with behavior and discipline.
  3. Continue to emphasize support for the staff that serve our students.

Jayne Finch

Age: 50

Occupation: Physician Assistant in Otolaryngology 

Why are you running for the school board: I am seeking a seat on the ICCSD Board of Directors to improve the learning experience for all of our students.

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected?

  1. Maintaining quality instruction in the classroom.
  2. Social-emotional learning and mental health support.
  3. Addressing racial disparities in achievement and discipline  

Ruthina Malone

Age: 45

Occupation: Administrator for the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa

Why are you running for the school board? 

I feel that the district is at a pivot place where continued strong and focused School Board members are needed to finish some existing work that were started in the areas of DEI, addressing disparities in our discipline policies and looking to new ways to address opportunity gaps. I want to finish this work with a second term and leave the district in a better place ready to tackle the future that is ahead. 

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected?

If re-elected,  my top priorities would be working with other board members and administration to continue our DEI work with a focus on ensuing we hire a diverse staff in our buildings; preparing our students for a good future with the solid foundation regardless if they enter the work force right after school or go on to a trade school or college by addressing opportunity gaps, especially those for historically marginalized students, and ensuring that we address facilities inequities by completing projects that weren’t addressed in our FMP 1.0. 

Sheila Pinter

Age: 52

Occupation: Policy Analyst at the Office of Personnel Management for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program

Why are you running for the school board?

The limited focus on mental health resources and supports available to our students was concerning to me prior to the pandemic. I began working with the district in 2019 on improving these supports and we have made some encouraging headway. Additional progress requires a whole student approach, with active systems in place for teachers, staff, and administrators to have direct knowledge of how to offer assistance to the student, that includes mental health supports. The pandemic has exacerbated existing mental health issues and parents are reporting signs of new mental health concerns. 

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected? 

Mental Health, Accountability/Accessibility, and FMP 2.0.

My top priority is the mental health of students, teachers, staff, and administrators. The most recent Mental Health Index (August results) recorded another increase in U.S. workers’ risk of PTSD, up 61% since the start of February 2021 and now 83% higher than pre-pandemic. While Educators rank approximately in the middle of the stress table, the demographic with the highest level of stress is our post-secondary students.  These are our future teachers.  By creating an environment and attractive culture that visibly and actively provides the necessary supports required in the current workforce, we can construct a healthy workforce for the future.  

I am also interested in improved accountability and accessibility. The district’s current DEI plan misses a critical element – and that is accessibility.  It should be DEIA, as in accessibility.  While physical access is important, attitudinal barriers prevent access. Mindsets or misunderstandings also create accessibility issues. B

The Facilities Master Plan 2.0 requires an overlay of the February 2021 Update to the 2015 Affordable Housing Market Analysis for the Iowa City Urbanized Area and census results.  The current programs are limited in scope (lacking in tech/vocational/agriculture opportunities, for example) that do not provide equitable opportunity to our students to pursue their interests.  This vision should be captured going forward. I have the necessary experience to help guide the district through these projects, gained as a member of a Department of Army’s Technical Evaluation Committee, service as a Subject Matter Expert in reviewing Corps of Engineers Technical Criteria for Fitness Centers with the goal of integrating Combative Training and Adaptive Sports and Fitness into existing and new facilities.  

Maka Pilcher Hayek

Age: 45

Occupation: Attorney

Why are you running for the school board?

The ICCSD educates 14,000 students every year. The quality of education our students receive is inextricably related to our community’s future. You can draw a straight line between a well-educated population and a successful community. When I am not parenting or lawyering, I will always spend my time advocating for public education. As a member of the ICCSD School Board, I can use my education and experience to further support public education.

What are your top three priorities for the Iowa City School District, if elected?

  1. Implement policies that support our students socially and emotionally. Whether it’s politically-incited division, or the consequences of a pandemic, the last few years have been difficult. Every student has their own “normal” they carry with them to school. Normal can mean they experience food insecurity, transiency, or illness. Normal can mean they are struggling with their identity or they have endured discrimination. Normal can also mean feeling anxious or depressed. Fourteen thousand kids need the ICCSD to feel like a safe place for their version of normal. The recently-approved Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum is an excellent step toward caring about every student’s normal and helping them succeed in education. 
  2. Continuing the work of equity and opportunity. Every student in the ICCSD needs to have access to the same opportunities, regardless of their address. To some, access is as simple as getting dropped off at school. To others, access requires additional supports like smaller class sizes and contoured learning strategies. The bar is set high by the ICCSD and every student must be supported to reach the bar.
  3. Reigniting our community’s belief in public education. The children aren’t the only people struggling to stay positive: politics and the pandemic have affected all of us. Ensuring that 14,000 students receive a well-rounded, exceptional education gives the community something positive to focus on. Our school board, administration, and teachers union already collaborate to strengthen the ICCSD. As a board member, I will encourage our community to join them.