Cedar Rapids City Council candidate Ann Poe discusses economic development, flood protection and the importance of listening to the community

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In the Nov. 5 election, Cedar Rapids voters will choose three members for city council.

Incumbent Scott Overland is challenged by Sofia Mehaffey in District 2. There are two open at-large seats and three candidates running: incumbent Ann Poe, Patrick Loeffler and Jorel Robinson. Incumbent Scott Olson is running unopposed in District 4.

Little Village is interviewing the five city council candidates in contested races. These interviews are a follow up from the candidate guide that was published earlier this month.

Ann Poe — Screengrab taken from a live stream of the Linn County League of Women Voters Sept. 26 forum.

Ann Poe is running for her third term on the Cedar Rapids City Council. The at-large councilmember said it was her experience as a community liaison for the Rebuild Iowa Office following the 2008 floods that first inspired her to run for city council eight years ago.

Poe said she’ll take what she learned over the last eight years and “push forward” if reelected.

“Over eight years you learn a lot,” Poe said. “It’s not any one thing, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is that, as an elected official, you never assume that we know everything. You ask the community.”

Poe said supporting economic growth and redevelopment has always been one of her top priorities. If reelected, she wants to continue working on this, by, among other things, supporting the Czech Village and NewBo District Action Plan.

“It’s a wonderful plan based upon input,” Poe said. “The most important thing is [seeing] what the business owners and people who live in that area are wanting.”

The plan had a series of open houses aimed at getting the public involved and hearing their ideas and concerns. The plan is expected to go in front of the city council in December.

Poe also lists securing funding for flood control on the west side as a priority. The city received federal funding for the east side and broke ground in October for the first project supported by the funding.

“We lost a lot of homes and businesses, and we want to be sure that as we build the flood control system, we’re building confidence and allowing both homeowners and business owners to have confidence that we can protect their investment,” Poe said.

Continuing to improve the city’s streets and ensuring Cedar Rapids is inclusive and welcoming to minority communities are also important, said Poe.

Poe, who was the executive director of NewBo City Market for close to a year, said the market has been a center for entrepreneurialism and healthy food. Something that would add to the area, and was part of her initial vision for NewBo City Market, is a community garden, she said.

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Her vision is for the community garden to be a place where volunteers can plant and harvest food to donate to food banks and provide the community with healthy food options.

“I want to get back to that,” Poe said about the community garden. “I also believe pretty strongly that we need to take care of our own. I really want to move this forward and see what we can do in the next four years to address food insecurity.”

“Cedar Rapids is a wonderful community,” Poe said. “I’m happy to be from here and do whatever I can to support our community. After [the] 2008 [flood], everybody lost a lot — I lost my family home — but we came back. We’re stronger and came through it together. I’m extremely proud to be part of this team and I will continue to push forward. I’ve got the background, knowledge, experience from years on council.”

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