The city of Cedar Rapids spent the last nine years coming back from a world class disaster while also keeping the rest of the city running and improving. We’ve come a long way but we have more Cedar Rapids issues to address. Work on our streets must be stepped up with a good priority review. We must push forward for flood protection for both sides of the river – this means safety for citizens and their property. It also protects jobs and will give those businesses currently in the pathway of a future flood the confidence to invest and expand. Safety of all neighborhoods is key for our community. We must continue to work to bring and keep good jobs here in Cedar Rapids and the area. And, we must continue to build on the excitement of our current recreation and cultural offerings for our citizens.
Improve Streets and Infrastructure
Cedar Rapids is a really good city, but to be a great city we must do the basics extremely well. That means we need to make more progress on our street repairs. In 2013, Cedar Rapids citizens passed a one-cent local option sales tax for streets. As your mayor, I would work with the City Manager and call for a full analysis of our streets situation to be shared with our citizens so that they know the facts on the dollars, priorities, use, methods, timing of projects etc. We can see and feel some progress already. But much more work remains.
Secure Permanent Flood Protection for Both Sides of the River
The Cedar Rapids survived a $7+ billion flood in 2008. Much has been done to come back from one of the worst natural disasters in US history. But now, the future vitality of the community depends on permanent flood protection for both sides of the river. I have a deep first-hand knowledge of what the city went through during the disaster, the process and outcome of the permanent flood protection planning and experience working with the Army Corps in Washington DC. Flood protection is a must-do project and I’m committed to securing the federal and state dollars and moving forward with the flood protection project. The federal money is tied up in Congress. Cedar Rapids needs a mayor who has experience dealing with federal representatives and federal authorities. I am the only candidate for mayor who has made numerous trips to DC on behalf of Cedar Rapids flood relief and future flood protection. The September Scare of 2016 could have been much worse. We can’t stop working until all people, homes, businesses and organizations are protected.
Support Safety and Strong Neighborhoods
For city officials, safety is number one whether safety on the roads, safety from natural disasters or neighborhoods safe from crime. I believe in community policing – working with all neighborhoods to ensure the safety of all citizens through strong communication and relationship building in all neighborhoods and training, and safety teams who take special care in each situation.
Building for Tomorrow — Jobs and the Economy
Opportunity waits for no one. Economic development must be serious business for Cedar Rapids and the Mayor of Cedar Rapids must be a self-starter who will lead the charge with passion. Building and developing and re-developing this city must be done with a “pedal to the metal” mentality. Using common sense and an approach of equal opportunity, we must continue to push forward for progress. Government processes take a long time, so any attitude of slowing things down can cause costly delays for those investing in Cedar Rapids and those reaping the benefits of jobs and vibrant local and regional economies.
Work to Hold the Line on Taxes
City taxes are not the city’s money, they are the people’s money and must be spent accordingly. As a city councilwoman, I voted to hold the line on taxes for the last 7 years of my 8 years in office, keeping the tax levy rate at 15.22 per $1000 valuation. I have demonstrated my common sense during budgeting time and in my questions during council meetings. I draw on my belief that cities are forever and that we are operating in a highly competitive and large and diverse eco-system. I believe we must not confine our risk assessments to the act of doing something but also include the risk scenarios if we don’t do something. I use formulas and concepts from market research, running a small business and those learned in business school.
Improve Parks and Recreation
We’ve been called the Park City and it’s no wonder. The Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation manages over 97 parks and trails and 4,171 acres of land. I’m proud of our parks. Our original city planners recognized the importance of parks and I do too. Parks are great places to build community, enhance beautification, offer relaxation and stress reduction, and preserve our planted environment. These past few years, Cedar Rapids has made great strides in restoring parks and building more playground facilities and trails. We have more work to do. Cedar Rapids needs to continue to offer affordable and accessible activities for residents including swimming pools, splash pads, a strong golf program, tennis courts, skateboard parks, recreation with dogs and a trails system.
Continue Cultural Offerings
This city is known for its municipal band concerts, its city markets, its growing amphitheater crowds, its new convention center and its tradition of great Paramount theatre entertainment. As Cedar Rapids Mayor, I will work to maintain and enhance our offerings. I will also continue to work with citizens as they show interest in additional markets and cultural venues throughout the community such as the city market/community center planned for the Czech Village.
Find a Place for Seniors
After the flood of 2008, the Witwer Senior Center in downtown Cedar Rapids did not re-open. Since then, Witwer Aging Services has offered programs for seniors at 13 different locations throughout Linn County but there is no one central community center where they can gather. At a time when more Cedar Rapidians are retired than ever before, I think it’s important to work with our partners at the county to take a serious look at a centrally located center to house accessible and affordable programs for our Cedar Rapids and Linn County senior citizens.
As Mayor, I support Cedar Rapids’ efforts be a greener city including work to make sure all facilities constructed and reconstructed after the flood of 2008 were more sustainable. Additionally, I will work hard to continue to improve storm-water management, water quality, wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation.
Retain Historic Character
The character and personality of Cedar Rapids can be found its unique neighborhoods, corridors, shopping districts and outdoor spaces. I support continued attention to maintaining our distinctive places.
Work with our Local School Districts
Strong education systems are key to the continued growth and positive development of Cedar Rapids. As mayor, I would work with the local boards of education to coordinate efforts and discuss issues of importance to parents, students, teachers, neighborhoods, businesses and others.
Build Relationships with other Communities
Cedar Rapids is Iowa’s second city and a huge hub for business, industry, education, health care, the arts, human services and shopping in this region. As we draw in many visitors from communities and counties in the region, it will be key to work in a spirit of cooperation with those other communities.