Tamara Marcus announces candidacy for Cedar Rapids City Council

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Tamara Marcus — Linn County photo

Climate scientist and social justice advocate Tamara Marcus announced her candidacy on Monday for the Cedar Rapids City Council in District 3.

Marcus will kick off her candidacy at Redmond Park, 1545 3rd Ave SE, on Thursday. The event, which coincides with Earth Day, is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. There will be music, games and free food at the event catered by Willie Ray’s Q Shack and One More Bite.

Marcus outlined three campaign focuses on her Facebook page:

• cultivating community-based reform

• addressing the city’s lack of disaster response

• promoting economic growth through innovative job training and the modernization of the energy sector

Marcus grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from Kennedy High School. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Natural Resources and Earth System Sciences program at the University of New Hampshire.

In the course of her academic career, Marcus has been named a Switzer fellow, a NASA New Hampshire Space Grant fellow, a National Center for Atmospheric Research fellow and a Fulbright scholar. The Fulbright funding allowed Marcus to conduct climate change research in the Himalayan Mountains in India.

Marcus was hired last summer as Linn County’s first sustainability program manager, a position created by the Board of Supervisors to lead the county toward a “more sustainable present and future.” She has been working on derecho recovery, as well as creating the county’s first greenhouse gas inventory.

Marcus spoke with Little Village about her role with the county earlier this year, and she emphasized how important it is to create a space where people can ask questions, voice concerns and advocate for themselves, because community input is “equally and sometimes even more important than any study you could reference.”

“People know what they need, especially those who don’t have what they need,” Marcus said. “… I think part of this work is reimagining these traditional processes of government and how we have approached climate adaptation or even other reform work within communities previously.”

She told the Gazette she intends to keep her position with the county if elected to the council and would recuse herself on votes when needed.

ASJ co-founders Leslie Hauskins (left), Tamara Marcus (right) and Nicole LeGrand (not pictured) have been organizing protests since June. Photo taken during the group’s July 18, 2020, protest in Greene Square Park. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

Marcus is also active in community affairs and is one of the co-founders of the nonprofit Advocates for Social Justice (ASJ). ASJ has organized protests against police violence in Cedar Rapids and worked with the city on plans for police reform, as well as organizing derecho relief efforts and other community projects in Cedar Rapids.

The group worked with city staff to establish an independent citizen review board that will oversee the Cedar Rapids Police Department. The board was approved by the city council in February and is the second review board in the state of Iowa.

The council seat in District 3 is currently held by Dale Todd. Todd, a longtime community activist in Cedar Rapids who also served as the city’s commissioner of Parks and Public Property from 1998 to 2002, was elected to the seat in 2017 with 71 percent of the vote.

Todd told Little Village in an email he plans to run again, and will be making a formal announcement about his reelection bid at a future date.

“There is plenty of time before elections,” Todd said. “We first need to get through the pandemic, recession, derecho, gun violence and everything else that local leaders deal with on a daily basis.”

The city election will take place in November. In addition to the candidates running for mayor, there will be four council seats on the ballot: District 1, District 3, District 5 and an at-large seat.

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