The Iowa City Downtown District Nighttime Mayor Angela Winnike is running for city council.
“I love Iowa City, and I want to disrupt it a little,” Winnike told Little Village.
Winnike grew up in Iowa City, and attended the University of Iowa. After graduating she starting working at Java House and Heirloom. She is now its chief of retail operations.
“Most of the people I went to school with in Iowa City and most of the people I went to college with, and even a lot of my friends after college, have moved away,” Winnike said. “For most of my twenties, people asked me why I stayed here.”
“I could never really answer that.”
Winnike, now 34 years old, says she found the answer after becoming more involved in the community, particularly in the downtown district where Java House and Heirloom are located. In early 2016, Winnike became a board member of the Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD), a nonprofit organization that describes its mission as promoting business opportunities and increasing quality of life for residents downtown. That same year, the ICDD announced it was creating the position of Nighttime Mayor of Iowa City. It’s a position that has produced positive results in both European cities, where it was first used, and large American cities, such as San Francisco. The nighttime mayor serves as a liaison between the city administration and the businesses, like bars and restaurants, that conduct much of their business after dark.
Winnike was chosen as the downtown Iowa City’s first nighttime mayor in April.
“I‘m down here every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, walking around and talking to people,” Winnike said. “I think it’s funny, and a little sad, that the young people I interact with know who I am as nighttime mayor, but they don’t know who our actual mayor is.”
This disconnect between the way young people and the way city leaders experience life in Iowa City is one the main reasons Winnike decided to run for city council.
“There’s a notion among young people that [city leaders] are not accessible, and it leads to a hesitation to get involved,” Winnike said. “I understand that. There’s a feeling that the people who are responsible for our politics having been doing this for multiple generations. They’re remote.”
“I want to disrupt that.”
“I have a lot of respect for the people currently serving on the city council, but I don’t think it’s a full representation of what our community is and who our community is,” Winnike explained. “I think we should have more women represented. I think we should have more minorities represented. I think we should have more young people represented. The university is extremely important to Iowa City, and the students who make up the university are extremely important to our city. There’s a lot of creativity there that isn’t being represented.”
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Winnike believes she will be able to turn out the youth vote.
“I think that if we can really activate young people to get active in local politics that it’s just like a wildfire that will spread, to state politics and beyond,” she said “If we can get young people active in local politics everywhere, I think we’ll see a huge difference.”
The election for city council in Iowa City will be held on November 7.