By Madison Purvis
Kingsley Botchway II, 31, has been on the Iowa City City Council since January 2014, and is running for re-election in the Nov. 7 election.
Currently, he is the mayor pro tem, meaning he is similar to a vice mayor. Botchway is a native of South Carolina, but he has lived in Iowa City for 10 years.
He obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina in criminology, and then came to the University of Iowa to get a professional doctorate in law.
Botchway said his interest in City Council was sparked when he started a program in law school and began working with the community. He said he saw council as “something he could do to advocate for people.”
His main three platform planks embrace affordable housing, economic development, and mental health. He believes these are important to the community and to the students, he said. Businesses were talking about these items, he said, and he knew they needed to be addressed.
As for economic development, Botchway said in a forum he supports racial and ethnic diversity in the workforce and in developing the Iowa City economy.
His experience in affordable housing includes a passing the first inclusionary zoning ordinance, an ordinance requiring buildings to include 15 percent of housing to be put aside as affordable housing. It also includes the creation of the Affordable Housing Fund with more than $1 million. For the future, Botchway said he hopes to increase opportunities for affordable housing.
On mental health, Botchway stated at the forum that he wanted to make public funding for mental health a priority. He discussed a plan to train law enforcement in crisis management and said there are already 50 officers trained in that area, a step in the right direction.
When asked if these issues pertain to students, he indicated they do. He said, “Seven years ago, I myself was a student, and I talk to students quite frequently.”
He also said one reason the issues are relevant to students is because so many students graduate from the university and go to other places when they should stay here.
Botchway said the mental-health aspect is also important to students. Increasing the number of resources available could have a huge effect on the lives of many people.
Students should vote and be involved in the election, Botchway said, and do their research, come to meetings, and educate themselves on the topics.
“By getting involved, you can gain some skills, become engaged, and possibly even put yourself in a position to run for City Council in the future,” he said.
“City Council has taught me that you have to be dedicated to the work,” he said. “People need help, and I want to be that resource. It has taught me to understand there is a system, and unfortunately, it does not work well for everyone. We need to do what we can to change that system.”