Cedar Rapids City Council candidate Scott Overland discusses strengthening neighborhoods and protecting the urban environment

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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.

Scott Overland — photo courtesy of the candidate

Incumbent Scott Overland is running to represent District 2 on the Cedar Rapids City Council for a second term. Overland is vice president of investments at Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust and is also a trustee of the Indian Nature Creek Center.

During his first term on city council, Overland wanted to work on a bigger project in addition to the usual issues that come up in city council. The Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) was Overland’s big project.

NFC is a lending program that incentivizes people to move to the city’s older neighborhoods. It’s a public-private partnership, affiliated with Des Moines’ NFC, which was created three decades ago.

Private lenders created an $8 million loan pool for Cedar Rapids program, aimed at homeowners or people who want to buy homes in neighborhoods that are typically underserved, because private lenders consider the neighborhoods “too risky.” Loans for both home buying and home improvements are available through the program.

Since NFC began lending in Cedar Rapids, 28 loans have been made, totaling $1 million.

“These older neighborhoods are affordable,” Overland said. “Having a good stock of affordable homes is very important for the city.”

“My commitment to neighborhoods is going to continue because, quite frankly, if you look at all the other issues that are in the city, if you don’t have steady and stable core neighborhoods, all those problems are worse.”

In addition to continuing support for NFC in a new term, Overland also want to work on supporting the development of new businesses and recruiting workers to the area.

Investing in Paving for Progress, a program dedicated to reconstructing roads and improving residential neighborhoods, is also important to Overland — especially since a main concern he hears from his District 2 constituents is fixing the streets.

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“I pay very close attention to what people in my district talk to me about,” Overland said. “Even though there are similarities all over the city, there are district-specific [issues].”

Overland also wants to focus on addressing flooding and completing flood protection, which fall under his goal of protecting the urban environment. If reelected, he wants his second-term project to fall somewhere in this goal.

“One of my strengths with NFC and what I’ll use for the environmental project is I’m very good, I think, at bringing the right people into the conversation about how to get to the end,” Overland said. And that’s how it was with NFC. … We got the right people together to make this work.”

Supporting alternative forms of transportation, like supporting trails and expanding bike lanes, is also something on Overland’s radar. He also mentioned his support for the electric scooters that Cedar Rapids introduced in August.

“I’m always in favor of trying all kinds of things and seeing how they work,” Overland said. “Oftentimes, you’re going to be surprised on the upside on how well this community is receptive to different ways of doing things and looking at things a little differently.”

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