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Voting in the combined city and school election starts at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning, and the polls will remain open until 8 p.m. Voters in Iowa City will choose two city council members, and four out of seven members of the Iowa City Community School District Board.
Iowa City Council
Iowa City will elect two new at-large members of the city council on Nov. 5, replacing Mayor Jim Throgmorton and Rockne Cole, both of whom decided not to run for reelection. Three candidates are seeking the two seats — Megan Alter, Laura Bergus and Janice Weiner — and whichever are elected, the new city council will be majority-woman.
Incumbent councilmembers Pauline Taylor, who represents District A, and District C’s John Thomas are both unopposed in the election.
The three at-large candidates all answered emailed questionnaires from Little Village, and later sat down for video interviews.
After years of working with community groups — from the South District Neighborhood Association and Black Voices Project to Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Iowa Women’s Foundation — as well as her service on the Iowa City Housing and Community Development Commission, Megan Alter decided to run for office.
“[W]hile I appreciate what can be done by individuals and organizations, I want to be impactful on a larger scale,” she said. Alter came to Iowa City for graduate school and decided to make it her home.
She sees a series of interrelated issues forming the biggest challenge facing the city: the need to create affordable housing, improving public transportation “so that it is convenient, accessible, safe and efficient,” and addressing the lack of affordable quality child care.
Alter favors creating city housing vouchers “to supplement those received from HUD.” She is also a supporter of city-lead efforts, such as “the South District Home Investment Partnership Program pilot program for home ownership.” Alter describes herself as “a staunch believer in pilot programs and community feedback to implement, correct or improve, and advance experiments so they can be successfully brought to scale.”
“Local government excites me,” Laura Bergus, a lifelong Iowa Citian, said. “My first job was televising Iowa City’s city council meetings, and my first career was dedicated to improving communication between the city and its residents.”
Bergus lists creating more affordable housing, better local and regional transportation, and the “need to shepherd responsible growth in diverse sectors of our economy” as Iowa City’s biggest challenges.
But asked what her top priority as a councilmember would be, Bergus chose “improving the process” rather than a specific issue. “Good process is transparent, reliable and accountable,” she said. “City council must focus on policy, not micromanaging … I will speak up if the city council gets stuck in the weeds. I will push staff to make city information easier to find.”
Bergus served on the Iowa City Telecommunications Commission for nine years. She has also been active with community groups, including the South District Neighborhood Association and the Community Foundation of Johnson County, and she does pro bono legal work through Iowa Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyer Project.
“My parents instilled in me the ethos of public service, which I embraced, serving my country for 26 years as a Foreign Service Officer (diplomat),” Janice Weiner said. She believes her “dual perspective of growing up in this community, then viewing it with new eyes when I returned home” after living in many other countries will make her effective in identifying problems and creating solutions.
Weiner said her legal training — she attended Stanford Law School, after graduating from Princeton — taught her how “to examine issues from all angles,” and her diplomatic background has given her the ability to deal effectively with people of all backgrounds.
She lists “affordable housing, transit that works for all, lack of quality, affordable daycare and infrastructure issues,” as the city’s biggest challenges, and said she would focus heavily on daycare, “which is an economic as well as a social justice issue.” Weiner said she would be mindful of funding issues.
“Solid finances must be part of the whole,” she said. “But having everyone at the table is key.”
Since returning to Iowa in 2015, Weiner has contributed to community organizations and serves on the boards of Shelter House, UNA-USA and Agudas Achim Synagogue.
Iowa City school board
Voters on Tuesday will also choose four school board members for the Iowa City Community School District. Two current members, Shawn Eyestone and Paul Roesler, are running for reelection. Phil Hemingway and Lori Roetlin decided against seeking another term.
There are seven candidates running for school board. Little Village sent questionnaires to all seven via email, and received answers from five candidates.
Charlie Eastham wants to bring his longtime experience as a community activist to the Iowa City school board. He retired from Health Care Information Systems at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in 2007, and lives in Iowa City with his wife, Karen Fox.
“Our children, now well into adulthood, attended Longfellow, South East and City High,” Eastham said. “They each tell stories of special teachers, friends and, sometimes surprising, experiences during their school years.”
In 2015, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission presented Eastham with the Isabel Turner Award in recognition of his work to advance human rights. Continue reading…
Shawn Eyestone was elected to the school board in September 2017 to complete the two years left on the term of LaTasha DeLoach, who had resigned two months earlier. Eyestone is an analytical lab manager at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville.
“I have two sons who are currently attending Liberty High,” he said. “That makes all three comprehensive high schools for my in-laws as my wife attended West and her mother attended City.” Continue reading…
Paul Roesler is a product of the Iowa City Community School District — from Lucas Elementary to South East Junior High to City High — and is currently vice president of the district’s school board. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sports studies from the University of Iowa and has worked at Scheels in Coral Ridge Mall for 21 years, where he is in charge of community outreach, social media and donations.
Roesler’s wife Brandi is a kindergarten teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School. The couple has two daughters, one is a sophomore at City High and the other is in seventh grade at South East.
Roesler was elected to the school board in the 2016 special election following the resignation of board member Tom Yates. Continue reading…
Michael Tilley, a first-time candidate for the Iowa City school board, is a science writer and editor for the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. Tilley and his wife Rebekah moved to Iowa City in 2012, and all four of their children are currently enrolled in Iowa City schools, one at Southeast Junior High and the other three at Lucas Elementary. Continue reading…
Lisa Williams, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, grew up in Iowa City, attending Horace Mann Elementary and South East Junior High. But that’s not her only personal connection to the Iowa City Community School District.
Her husband, Jason Schumann, is a teacher at City High School, where Williams has also volunteered as a coach of the school’s mock trial team for the past six years. The couple have two daughters. The oldest is a first-grader at Penn Elementary and the youngest will be a kindergartner at Penn next year. Continue reading…
Public measure LY
Public measure LY will also appear on the ballot, but the Iowa Supreme Court ruled last month that the measure is not legally valid. By the time the court issued its Oct. 18 ruling, the ballots for the election had already been printed, and absentee voting had begun.
Public measure LY asked voters to weigh in on the school board’s plan to demolish the old Hoover Elementary School building. The court ruled that Iowa Code does not allow that decision to be the subject a public referendum.
Where to vote
Voters must cast their ballots at their designated polling place on Tuesday. The Johnson County Auditor’s Office has an online look-up tool for anyone uncertain of where to vote.
This is the first regularly scheduled election for which the 2017 voter ID law will be in full effect. Voters will need to show a photo ID issued by either the state or federal government. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office has a list of acceptable IDs.
• Iowa non-driver ID card
• Out-of-state driver’s license or non-driver ID card
• U.S. passport
• U.S. military ID
• ID card issued by employer
• Student ID issued by Iowa high school or college
• Tribal ID
One of those forms of photo ID will also be required for anyone who wants to register to vote on Election Day. If the photo ID doesn’t have your current address, you’ll need to bring one of the following proofs of residence:
• Residential lease
• Utility bill (including a cell phone bill)
• Bank statement
• Government check or other government document
Assistance will be available for voters with special needs. Each precinct should have two officials — a Democrat and a Republican — designated to assist those voters. If a voter prefers to have someone other than the designated officials assist, that person will have to sign an Affidavit of Voter Requesting Assistance, according to the Iowa Secretary of State.
Curbside voting is also available for those unable to easily exit their vehicles. Once alerted to a voter requesting the curbside option, the two appointed precinct officials will bring a ballot to the voter.
Anyone with questions about assistance with voting should call the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, 319-356-6004.