Ann Freerks enters the race for the open Iowa City Council seat

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Ann Freerks at the Little Village office, Aug. 10, 2018. — photo by Frankie Schneckloth

Ann Freerks announced on Thursday she is running for the vacant at-large seat on the Iowa City Council. Although it’s Freerks’ first run for public office, she’s no stranger to city government.

Freerks, who has lived in Iowa City for 33 years, served on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission for 17 years. Before that she was a member of the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission. While on the Historic Preservation Commission, Freerks helped the city create the first Neighborhood Conservation District in Iowa.

But her involvement in community issues goes back further than her time on those city commissions.

Two decades ago, Freerks worked with neighbors in the Longfellow neighborhood in an successful effort to keep redevelopers from adding multi-resident buildings intended as student housing to the neighborhood on a scale that would have substantially altered the area’s character.

“I created a connection with place and with people, and I had a great understanding for the love that so many people have for our community,” Freerks said during an interview at Little Village’s office. “It was a long drawn-out process, and a lot of ugly things happened, because there was a lot of money at stake.”

“Afterwards, I felt a duty to do something to give back.”

That led to Freerks joining the Historic Preservation Commission, and then the Planning and Zoning Commission. Freerks completed her final term on the commission in June.

“I thought, I have all of this knowledge and I have a desire to try to continue to do what I can to help the community,” Freerks said, when asked why she decided to run after the special election was announced last week. “In my time on the commission, I tried to bring lots of different people together, and I was always open to having difficult conversations, to come up with the best solutions.”

In addition to her work with the city commissions, Freerks, a creative coordinator in the UI Office of Strategic Communications, has worked with other nonprofits active in the community, including the Iowa City Community School District’s Any Given Child. The program is designed to provide equitable access to the arts for all of the district’s students.

“We want to make sure that all children have a chance to be exposed to music, theater, visual arts, writing and other such things,” Freerks said.

Freerks sees the work she does with zoning and planning and the work she does with groups like Any Given Child as complementary.

“All these things are connected, all the issues facing the community are,” she said. “Affordable housing, transportation, schools — it’s all connected.”

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Freerks said she wants to help create, “decent, adequate neighborhoods with sustainable living environments for everybody.” She added, “You also have to have development in the city, in order to do all things you want to do, but as you start new developments, you have to do it the right way.”

Along with Freerks, Ryan Hall, Brianna Wills, Christine Ralston and Bruce Teague are running for the at-large seat that became vacant with Kingsley Botchway resigned. There will be a primary on Sept. 4, and the two candidates who receive the most votes will face each other in the Oct. 2 special election.

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  1. I know Ann personally and she’s very committed to Iowa City and its neighborhoods. No other candidate has the breadth of experience that she possesses. The number of volunteer hours she has devoted to the Longfellow PTA, the Historic Preservation Commission, and the Planning and Zoning Commission are proof of her commitment to our community. Her focus on neighborhoods proves that she gets what is best for Iowa City.

  2. I am thrilled that Ann had decided to run. Ann has the ability to LISTEN. While that may seem like a small thing, i believe it is a lost art. More politicians would benefit greatly by learning from Ann. While i have not always agreed 100% with Anns votes on issues while serving on boards such as Planning and Zoning, I always admired her for her careful, thoughtful analysis of the issue before her. I believe she would be a valuable addition to our current City Council.

  3. Ann Freerks is a thoughtful person, and by that I mean she considers the impacts of decisions as they affect the entire community. I’ve observed that by watching her work on the Planning and Zoning Commission. She is a careful decision-maker: she listens to other commissioners, the public in attendance at those meetings, and she anticipates the possible range of outcomes that might arise out of P&Z recommendations to City Council. If she has an agenda, it is to be open-minded and respectful during a decision-making process. Little Village’s interview with her revealed even more evidence of her dedication to Iowa City and its residents. Thank you, Ann, for putting yourself forward as a candidate for City Council.

  4. I am incredibly excited about Ann Freerks running for the City Council. Watching Ann at Planning & Zoning Commission meetings, I have been mightily impressed by how much “homework” she always did beforehand, studying and scrutinizing the issues, and then how much leadership and collaboration she exhibited at the meetings. She asked good questions. She listened closely. And she was not afraid to ask for more — more information, more consideration of the people whom the proposal will impact, more rethinking on behalf of the community at large. Her end goal seemed to be not what would just be okay and acceptable, but what would be the best possible for Iowa City. Because of her experience in city government and with local issues, if elected she will hit the ground running—and give it her all.

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