On Monday, retired diplomat Janice Weiner announced she is running for an at-large seat on the Iowa City Council.
“I’m running because public service matters,” Weiner said in an announcement video on Facebook.
Weiner grew up in the Iowa City area and attended Iowa City West High School, before going on to Princeton University and Stanford Law School. After 26 years in the U.S. foreign service, including diplomatic postings in Canada, Mexico, Turkey, Germany and Poland, Weiner returned to Iowa City, where she is currently raising her granddaughter, Alaska.
“I spent a career representing our country abroad as a U.S. diplomat,” Weiner said. “I know what service and commitment mean. I have experience listening to and working productively with people who may not always agree.”
It’s a point she made in her 2018 run for the open Iowa Senate seat in District 37, which covers parts of Iowa City, Coralville and western Johnson County, as well as Cedar County and a small slice of Muscatine County. Weiner was defeated by Zach Wahls in the Democratic primary.
“I’m running because I care deeply about this community and all its people, including those who have been underserved by the city,” Weiner said. “If your housing is substandard, if your roads are in need of repair, if you can’t get to your job because there is no bus that runs when you work, your voice matters and I will listen to you.”
“The city must work for all its residents.”
Carrying Alaska in a backpack child-carrier, Weiner said, “[N]ow, more than ever, local government matters. It’s the very foundation of democracy, the incubator of ideas and policies. It’s the level of government on which you have the most direct influence, and which has the most direct impact on your lives.”
She goes on to explain that townships in Iowa are currently facing challenges created by Republican lawmakers in Des Moines, preempting the power of local governments and reducing state funding that is supposed to help cities and counties cope with the loss of revenue due to the legislature’s 2013 roll back of commercial property taxes.
Weiner lists her top priorities as addressing climate change, increasing affordable housing and improving public transportation.
“I also want explore ways of improving people’s skills and earning ability, and help them gain the tools to do just that,” she said. “That includes partnering with local community colleges and other levels of government, and working to expand daycare availability.”
Weiner is the third candidate to declare her candidacy for an at-large city council seat. Two at-large seats will be on the ballot in November. Mayor Jim Throgmorton and Councilmember Rockne Cole, who currently hold those two seats, have both announced they will not seek reelection.
Attorney Laura Bergus and Megan Alter, a manager in test development at ACT, have also announced runs for the at-large seats. The filing period for city council candidates has not yet begun. In order to appear on the November ballot, a candidate must submit both an affidavit of candidacy and a nomination petition with the Johnson County Auditor’s Office between Aug. 12 and 29. For an at-large seat, the nomination petition must have 128 signatures.
If five or more candidates file for the two at-large council seats, there will be a primary election on Oct. 8.