Coralville Mayor John Lundell announced on Wednesday that he will not run for reelection in November.
“I am extremely proud of the positive growth and development that has occurred during my service to the City of Coralville, but it is time to step back from a leadership role,” he said in a written statement.
Lundell is currently in his fourth two-year term as mayor. Prior to being elected mayor in 2013, he served 10 years on the Coralville City Council.
The 2013 city election in Coralville attracted national attention as three candidates — Lundell, who was seeking to move from councilmember to mayor, and two councilmembers, Tom Gill and Bill Hoeft, who were seeking reelection — were targeted for defeat by a national political organization funded by the Koch Brothers.
The official reason the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity gave for intervening in the Coralville election was its displeasure with the city council’s approval of tax increment financing for the Iowa River Landing and other projects. Despite reportedly spending millions on advertising to defeat the three, the big money campaign failed.
It did, however, inspire a record voter turnout for a city election in Coralville, despite heavy rain and winds on Election Day in 2013. Lundell won his first term as mayor with 65 percent of the vote. Gill was reelected with 51 percent of the vote, and Hoeft won with 56 percent.
Lundell was unopposed in his three runs for reelection as mayor.
In his statement on Wednesday, Lundell cited the development of Iowa River Landing as one of his proudest accomplishments in office.
The 65-year-old Lundell grew up in Fort Dodge, and attended the University of Iowa, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Lundell and his wife Diana have lived in Coralville since 1980, and Diana Lundell served on the Coralville City Council before he did. She was appointed to the city council to fill a vacancy, and went on to serve for 15 years. Lundell was first elected to the council in a 2003 special election, two years after Diana Lundell left the council. Lundell described her “a great mentor” for him in his career as a public official.
Lundell told the Gazette his decision not to run for reelection was not influenced by the events of the last year, which included the pandemic, the derecho and the racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Coralville was one of the few cities in Iowa to impose a curfew last year, after protests began. Lundell imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on June 1, 2020, following a night during which police confronted protesters at Coral Ridge Mall, with police using flash-bang grenades and protesters throwing rocks. That same night, several small businesses were vandalized and there was a break-in at Coralville’s Walmart.
In his statement on Wednesday, Lundell thanked the people he has worked with over his years in office.
“I have been blessed to serve with superb city council members and staff,” he said.
As of Wednesday morning, no one has announced they will run for mayor of Coralville.