Protecting our water and maintaining the land
We must maximize the potential of our city’s green spaces by capturing storm-water runoff through the implementation of rain gardens and promote construction of permeable infrastructure. We need to invest in proactive measures to alleviate the future financial stress of updating our old storm-water infrastructure. Through public, private, and nonprofit collaboration, we can help transform our green spaces to better retain water, grow food, and provide a pleasant and healthy landscape for our community. Water is life, and we must protect it.
Happy and healthy neighborhoods
We must continue to strengthen local food production, and increase the amount of affordable community garden plots in our area. This movement has started off really well, and places like Wetherby Park have become beacons of health for families in the summer and fall months. We also need to continue to implement walking and biking infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities. I wish to fully implement the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, which will make roads safer for bikers, and also allow for better traffic flows.
Green jobs, green roofs
I moved to Iowa for a job in energy auditing and efficiency improvements, and I feel like this is where I can really help improve our community.
All TIF projects in the City should be LEED Silver Certified or better (with at least 8 points for Energy Performance credit). By using TIF to require green energy standards we are creating jobs and sustainable development while building a solid tax-base. With more environmentally friendly standards on new construction, we can develop a local, green-energy economy that encourages job training, education, and preparation on our environment, and its changes.
We should also be open to reexamining Iowa City’s policies on rooftop spaces. I would be happy to help encourage this dialogue around solutions in order to maximize the aesthetics and utility of these spaces–what a great place to grow food or flora, and provide entertainment!
STUDENT AND NEW INVOLVEMENT
Localizing issues for new and shorter-term residents
We need to do everything we can to get students and new residents engaged in local politics. We need to get people registered to vote in their communities so that they are fully engaged in the space directly around them. Right now it seems as though so many people function within the city, but are unaware of what it has to offer. We also need more employment opportunities for students and newer residents so they can live here, thrive, and feel like they are truly a part of this community.
Providing community-boosting resources where we can
Wherever we can, we must provide mental health resources and resources for survivors of sexual and physical violence. We need to recognize the seriousness of these community threats and be able to take measurable steps forward at the city level now that state funding has cut programs like the Iowa Sexual Abuse Hotline.
Collaborate on struggles that long-time residents, new residents, and students all face
Students and long-term residents alike have shared concern over cost of living, housing, food insecurity, and transportation, among many other issues. If we can collaborate and build bridges between currently disconnected segments of our community, we can tackle these issues together!
ECONOMIC AND RACIAL JUSTICE
Tackle the affordable housing crisis
Iowa City has a disproportionately high cost of living for young folks, elderly folks, and lower-income households. We must do more to make Iowa City more equitable and affordable for all people. The City of Iowa City has created a 15-step affordable housing action plan and we must continue to support that plan and expand on new and innovative solutions so that people are not cost-burdened.
A cost-burdened home is defined as one that pays 30% of the household income or more on housing and housing-related expenses. Locally, Iowa City has the highest rate of cost-burdened households in the county.
HUD’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy data set [2007-2011 CHAS] states that Iowa City has a total of 10,059 rental and owner households with a housing cost burden greater than 30% of their income (6,779 of which have a cost burden greater than 50% of their income). This means most people who are cost-burdened are paying 50% or more for their housing. This is horrible, and we need to do something about it now.
The American Community Survey data (used by the Johnson County Affordable Housing Coalition) is also telling. Almost 80% of renters ages 15-24 are cost-burdened, and almost 60% of renters 65 and older are cost-burdened by paying at least 30% of their income on gross rent. In Johnson County, about 8% of households are either Black or Hispanic, but according to lending data, they only account for about 4% of new mortgages.
One way to ease this crisis may be housing cooperatives. As the President of the River City Housing Collective, I see this model work, and I think it could be expanded in this community. We can utilize effective programs like UniverCity to convert rental units to more owner-occupied homes that have the potential to be converted into cooperative housing. Members of a housing co-op can decide their own rent, share the cost of living, and provide community resources other living situations cannot.
Provide reliable and effective public transportation
It’s been too long since we updated our transportation system. The need for a good public transportation system is dire, and funding is a major issue here. But this is an area where we may be able to solve multiple issues at once. Parking in Iowa City is a major problem, and if we enhance our bus service, people will not have to rely on cars nearly as much. I will support the bus review the city is currently taking, and I will encourage collaboration amongst all transit systems in the area.
Because public transportation acts as the mobile fabric of cities, it needs to run in an effective, sustainable, and accessible way. When rethinking how our transportation system can work for all people, we must think about designing a system that keeps our most vulnerable communities in mind: disabled people, elderly people, and children. If we approach public transportation this way, we can ensure that everyone will be able to ride around our city safely and efficiently.
The buses we currently have are from the 1980s, and require many repairs. With new creative systems of revenue in place, we can secure electric buses that will help reduce our carbon emissions. The current City Council has already agreed to help reduce community-wide greenhouse gases by 26-28% for the year 2025, and 80% by 2050 (from the base year of 2005). These are large goals, and we need actionable steps in place to meet them.
Our buses currently run in a way that isn’t efficient for many residents. Whether it’s bus schedules or bus routes, there is a lot of work to be done. The bus service does not allow many people to get to the grocery store or work on Sundays. The free shuttle also disappears in the summer after students leave, and long-term residents are cut off from this amenity. There’s also an extreme lack of bus shelters, which is especially difficult for people who have to wait in harsh weather, or in the midst of winter.
As of right now, Iowa City runs on a “hub-and-spokes” plan (imagine a spider’s body) where the buses go to a central location before transitioning to other major areas. For many people who need to get to another location around Iowa City promptly, this can spell disaster. Sometimes people wait up to an hour and a half to get across town. With routes transitioning to circular system rather than a “hub-and-spokes” system, we will see many of these issues disappear.
The biggest problem here is acquiring funding, and the easiest thing to do is to just say we have none. Instead, we must come up with new, creative solutions: a certain number of yearly parking passes sold to residents for public lots which could fetch a high price, a new advertisement plan for the city buses which gives local businesses a better deal than large corporations when it comes to buying out bus space inside or outside the buses, or sponsorship programs to help fund new buses or bus stop shelters.
Building a stronger working class
We must advocate for the Johnson County minimum wage of $10.10, and do everything we can to encourage businesses to support this progress.
I want to extend bargaining with public sector workers, and I would support including permissive subjects so that negotiations will be less limited than what the recent state legislation would allow for. Throughout this uncertainty, Iowa City should continue to advocate for workers in public unions, and find creative solutions to reinforce our public workers’ right to bargain. I am willing to listen to those with ideas on how to implement smart and effective solutions at the local level. I believe that a strong and healthy public work-force improves both the public sector, and the private sector.
Through the city’s use of TIF, I would like to ensure that specific standards are met so that we avoid taking bids from contractors that utilize misclassification to minimize the rights of their workers, and attempt to define and enforce what we believe to be a “responsible” bid. The lowest bid does not mean the greatest quality or greatest treatment of workers. The city should aim to look for affordability, while ensuring that workers are treated well.