An at-large seat in the Iowa City Council is up for grabs, and one day before the deadline to file petitions to run in the special election, two new candidates entered the race. Christine Ralston, director of career services at the University of Iowa School of Law, and Bruce Teague, the owner of Caring Hands & More Home Health & Family Services, both announced their candidacies on Thursday.
“I’ve been interested in city government and the way cities work for quite some time,” Ralston told Little Village. That interest is evident in the press release announcing her candidacy.
Ralston previously served as vice-chair of the Generation Iowa Commission and as a member of the Iowa City Housing and Community Development Commission. She is a former policy analyst at the nonprofit nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project, where much of her research focused on employment, state budget, and tax issues. A graduate of the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning (MA, 2008), College of Law (JD, 2007), and School of Music (BM, 2001), Ralston is a 10-year resident of Iowa City’s east side.
Ralston said she’s also enjoyed discussions that “dig into the nuances of how different policies impact each other.”
“I care deeply about the issues [facing Iowa City], but I realized in a recent conversation about them that I’m not part of the conversation in a way that makes a difference to all the parts of the community,” Ralston said. “So, when Kingsley accepted the position in Waterloo, I thought, ‘Now’s the time.’ If I know I have this interest and I have this skill set, and I have this background and I care deeply about this community, I need to step up now.”
Ralston said she would focus on affordable housing as part the council.
“I’m very interested in affordable housing and how it impacts historic preservation and community development,” she said. Affordable housing was an issue she studied in depth in her graduate work in urban and regional planning, and she’s keenly aware of its complex nature.
“The [building] height question always pops up [when considering affordable housing], and we know, as informed citizens, that height also equals density,” Ralston explained. “Density is great for infrastructure and that’s better for the environment — it’s better for bicyclists, it allows people to spend less money on transportation if they are able to forgo a vehicle.”
All of that is related to the broader issues of improving living standards that Ralston worked on during her time at the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project.
“While I was at the Iowa Policy Project, I did a lot of work on wages and income support, and I recognized that for the state of Iowa, we’re a pretty darn expensive place to live,” she said. “And there are ways that look at making it more affordable via either decreasing costs for affordable housing or increasing wages.”
Bruce Teague moved to Iowa City at the age of 17, with his sister who had enrolled at UI. He graduated from West High, and attended Kirkwood Community College before receiving a BA in psychology from UI.
As his campaign’s press release noted,
Teague is a member of the Iowa City Chamber of Commerce, Iowa City Noon Day Rotary, Target Small Business, Olmstead Task Force on Aging, Mental Health & Disabilities Advocate, AARP (Past Chapter President) IC Compassion/Immigration BIA Center (Steering Committee and Past Chair), Johnson County Livable Community (Committees included Task Force on Aging, Housing, Caregivers, Transportation), Cleaning 4 A Reason, [and] LGBTQ community.
“My whole purpose in getting in this race is making sure the voices of those who are marginalized are heard,” Teague said in an interview at Little Village’s office.
Teague said that during his 25 years in Iowa City, he has come to appreciate the diversity of the communities that make up the city, but he believes too many of those different communities are isolated from the city’s government.
“We need to hear the voices of those in communities that are not downtown, not on the university campus,” Teague said. “You have to know how to reach out to the communities that are not coming to city council to take their place at the table.”
Teague said he wanted to focus on issues such as improving public transportation to open up all Iowa City has to offer to everyone, and making sure the city treats human rights as human rights, and not as something optional.
“The city has been very progressive about meeting the needs of many of its citizens, but there are still many needs remaining,” Teague said. “It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road, and make sure that everyone’s voice is being heard.”
Ralson and Teague join Ryan Hall and Brianna Wills in the race to fill the seat that became vacant when Kingsley Botchway resigned. The special election for the at-large seat will be on Oct. 2, but since there are now more than two candidates in the race, there will first be a primary election on Sept. 4.