Different Candidates, Common Goals
The Core Four candidates each have their own unique strengths, experiences and views. Yet, something they agree on is the need for cooperative collaboration among those serving in the City Council in a way that serves and engages all our community members. Although they are running different campaigns, they acknowledge that many of their goals are the same. If you visit their respective websites and read the letters of endorsement you’ll see these similarities. They are not a formal ‘slate’ their detractors sometimes refer to them as such. While their different platforms are unique, they share common goals.
Jim Throgmorton has been criticized harshly for pursuing what his critics refer to vaguely as ‘pet causes.’ If you visit Throgmorton’s website, you’ll learn that his ‘pet causes’ include improving racial equity in the city, fair use of Tax Increment Financing, investing in City resources that benefit all residents, investing in neighborhood schools, promoting sustainability, and making City Council meetings more accessible to citizens.
In a Press-Citizen interview, Throgmorton stated:
“If you look at our brochures and the literature we’ve been handing out, there’s no coordination there. This is more of an emerging coalition that has grown organically and evolved over the course of our campaigns. Our core values are all slightly different, but they are complementary.” (source)
- Encouraging entrepreneurs & small business
- Walkable, bikeable city
- Historic preservation and neighborhoods
- Expansion of community gardens and local food access
- Smart growth
- Expansion of affordable housing programs, including UniverCity Neighborhood Partnership
- Expanding public transit
- Safer community through expansion of community policing
- A family friendly city
- Inclusive economic growth
- Expanding arts and culture programs
- Million dollar taxpayer subsidies to developers
- Exclusionary zoning
- Wasteful spending
- Closing downtown senior center
- Privatizing Farmers Market or moving it downtown
This Is What I Stand For: Healthy Neighborhoods
“Healthy Neighborhoods” is a foundational element of my campaign platform, “4-Points for a Better, Healthier Iowa City”. What helps contribute to a neighborhood’s high quality of life? I’ve highlighted several features below:
Excellent parks and schools
Excellence is the important consideration here. Schools and parks are an important part of a neighborhood’s sense of place and community cohesion. A couple of years ago, Jim Throgmorton and I worked with Jason Lewis of the Twain neighborhood on imagining how Twain Elementary School, a beautiful 10-acre school site, could be transformed to serve everyone in the community. We prepared a preliminary sketch describing that vision, and presented it to City Council and the School Board. Now that the wonderful renovation and expansion of the buildings has been completed, I hope the school grounds can meet the neighborhood’s need for an excellent central park. Perhaps City Council and the Twain neighborhood could partner with the Iowa City Community School District to make this happen.
Keeping homes in good repair in our established neighborhoods
Keeping homes in good repair can be challenging, especially in our established neighborhoods. How can we incentivize home renovation? One approach Iowa City could take in targeted neighborhoods would be to freeze property assessments for a 10-year period after home improvements. Such a program could be tied to other conditions promoting public benefits, such as affordable housing or long-term residency.
In Iowa City’s central neighborhoods, some areas around the Downtown have suffered from insufficient reinvestment. The City’s UniverCity Program has helped stabilize several neighborhoods (e.g., the Northside, College Green, Miller Orchard) by renovating existing residential properties, with the condition that they be sold to income-qualified owner-occupants and remain so for at least 20 years. However, many properties in these neighborhoods were not considered salvageable within the UniverCity Program’s financial constraints. In these instances, tax increment financing may be a useful tool to help spur appropriate infill development, when combined with zoning incentives (e.g., a moderate, incremental increase in density) and form-based building and site design standards.
Neighborhood Action Plans tailored to meet the needs and desires of residents
What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in your neighborhood? City Council could encourage neighbors to organize as a group and develop action plans for neighborhood improvements. The City’s Program for Improving Neighborhoods could serve as a vehicle for funding such efforts, along with neighborhood contributions.
The quality of our neighborhood streets would benefit in many ways from a healthy urban forest. Perhaps the City and neighborhood organizations could co-sponsor Arbor Day street tree plantings to replace the anticipated loss of hundreds of ash trees to emerald ash borer.
Below is Preliminary Site Plan for Twain Elementary School, developed by John Thomas in collaboration with Jim Throgmorton and Jason Lewis. Additional neighborhood photos illustrating other points from above with captions are included in John’s original Facebook post.