Vote your hopes, not your fears


A friend suggested I write about my time on City Council. Their recommended title was, “Ordinance Passes 6-1, Kubby Voting No.” This is kind of funny, yet does not fully reflect my experience; 95 percent or more of votes on the council, no matter what the council makeup, will be 7-0.

Mayor Matt Hayek’s Press-Citizen opinion piece on Oct. 14 used fear to steer the community toward his candidate picks for Iowa City. He used the term, “threatens the balance.” I read that to mean “threatens the status quo.” Progressive policymakers should always be threatening the status quo, even ones they built. As is said, “Change or die.”

The real issues in this election are about those few votes where there is a difference in approach and value — both in terms of process and content. I believe these issues will be in the areas of racial justice, affordable housing, development density, sustainability, and economic development.

Let’s get real. All candidates understand that density in the core of our community makes sense environmentally and economically. The differences are about the scale of increased density — 15 stories or eight stories. Both are greater density than the current status quo.

All candidates have stated that they would support TIF projects under varying circumstances. The differences are two-fold. The first contrast is about concentration — giving larger projects large amounts of public assistance versus offering lesser amounts to more entities providing economic drive to our community. The other divergence is about circumstances under which public assistance will be provided — how strong will they be about energy efficiency, building materials, affordable housing, and affordable commercial space. These differences are a matter of scale, decentralization of public assistance, and ensuring the community is getting enough back from this form of public assistance.

This is not a council race about micro- or macro-management, as indicated by the mayor. It is not a race about pet projects. It is not even a race about who will be the next mayor.

This is a race about core values and the scale in which our community will grow. This is a race about how we will approach issues of racial justice.

As an activist, I can be impatient with the pace of local government. In 1997, Jim Throgmorton and I were part of a minority in support of mandatory inclusionary zoning. We called it the “Fair Share” policy. Here we are a generation later, still waiting for voluntary action by the private sector, waiting for a community-wide fair share policy. Either would have helped reduce socio economic status disparities in some of our newer schools.

The city has a new sustainability plan with many great ideas and projects to reduce climate change in practical ways. There is a plan to work on issues of racial justice in the areas of police policy, training, and practice, in the area of recruitment for boards and commissions, and general communication. The question is how fast and how hard will the city work to implement these plans. I believe with Core Four candidates, these plans will be implemented more quickly and deeply.

Don’t follow the path of fear mongering from the mayor, the business community, or anybody about the Core Four. Get to know the stances of the Core Four individually: Jim Throgmorton and Rockne Cole in the at-large race, Pauline Taylor in District A, and John Thomas in District C. Decide for yourself. Vote your hopes and not your fears.

Karen Kubby owns a small family owned downtown retail bead store and served on the City Council from 1989-2000.

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