Iowa City Downtown District selects new ‘nighttime mayor’

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Joe Reilly — courtesy of the Iowa City Downtown District

The Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) announced on Wednesday it’s hired a new “Nighttime Mayor,” the nonprofit’s “nightlife, arts and culture liaison.”

Joe Reilly will fill the vacancy created when Angela Winnike, the first person to hold the position, resigned in December, before moving to Los Angeles for a new job.

Reilly, a native of Council Bluffs, moved to Iowa City 15 years ago to attend the University of Iowa, according to a press release from ICDD.

For the past decade he has focused his time being the face for airline brands at the Eastern Iowa Airport while spending his free time and weekends downtown at the Englert, Film Scene, and other downtown haunts. Reilly was hired for his knowledge base in the arts, passion and familiarity with the downtown community, experience with media and Public Access TV, customer service skills, and perspective related to diversity and inclusivity.

ICCD announced it was creating the position of nighttime mayor in 2016, following the example of many European cities—Amsterdam was the first to hire one—as well as some large American cities, such as San Francisco. Originally a part-time position, largely focused serving as a liaison between the city administration and the businesses, like bars and restaurants, that conduct much of their business after dark, ICCD decided alter the nighttime mayor’s role following Winnike’s resignation, making it a largely daytime job focused on “nightlife and arts-driven marketing.”

“The position will be working primarily during daytime hours with limited levels of evening work and is designed to collaborate closely with our cultural venues, restaurants, hotels,” ICDD Executive Director Nancy Bird said in a written statement, when the hiring process for the job began in March.

According to the ICCD, the position is now also a full-time job, thanks to a new partnership with Think Iowa City.

In the ICCD’s press release, Reilly called downtown a “culturally vibrant district.”

“When the opportunity came up for me to have a hand in shaping, drawing and welcoming that vibrancy, in a city that has become very dear to me over the years, I pounced on the chance,” he said.

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