Iowa City resident Mazahir Salih, president of the Eastern Iowa Center for Worker Justice, announces her candidacy for city council at the Robert A. Lee Recreation Center on Monday, March 6, 2017. (The Daily Iowan/James Year)

Editorial: DI endorses Botchway, Salih, Mims for City Council

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Iowa City’s five City Council candidates differ little in their progressive stances on pertinent local issues, such as affordable housing and public transportation. However, what sets them apart is not only the level of comprehensiveness in which they approach these issues, but also their knowledge of and ability to collaborate with our diverse community.

There are two openings for the at-large seats, and the candidates running are incumbent Kingsley Botchway, activist Mazahir Salih, and current Nighttime Mayor Angela Winnike. University of Iowa student Ryan Hall is running against current Councilor Susan Mims for the District B seat.

After careful consideration, the DI Editorial Board has decided to endorse Mazahir Salih, Kingsley Botchway, and Susan Mims for the City Council.

Botchway fully embodies a slogan he expressed at a candidate forum on Oct. 26: “Be informed, and seek solutions.” One major problem in our community is that Iowa City buses provide limited routes and hours. In keeping with his slogan, Botchway proposes gathering data first to tackle this issue — and his experience on the council leaves him well-versed in innovative solutions such as a hybrid model, express service, ride shares, and regional-level plans.

Botchway also provides necessary community expertise as the equity director for the Iowa City School District. In this role, he has proven his ability to connect systemic issues such as transportation, student employment, and schools as multipurpose facilities, a comprehension that shows promise in pursuing far-reaching solutions to various community concerns.

Salih’s grass-roots organizing and engagement with marginalized communities makes her more than deserving of the second at-large seat. Throughout her campaign, Salih has not only proven that she is invested in improving the lives of Iowa City residents but that she is also dedicated to understanding their specific concerns.

As president of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, Salih succeeded in getting many Johnson County businesses to commit to a $10.10 minimum wage, even after the Iowa Legislature took away the right of counties to set their own minimum wage. Salih’s creativity, determination, and commitment to “building bridges” makes her more than capable of making a transformative local impact, despite limitations from state law.

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Finally, we endorse Mims for District B because of her financial competence and structural understanding of Iowa City. She is not set apart from her opponent Ryan Hall by her stances on the issues but instead by her fiscally moderate approach to them. Her dialogue with local business owners and knowledge of revenue will ultimately continue to fund important social initiatives. For example, Mims was instrumental in the continuing development of an Access Center to serve community needs such as drug abuse, mental-health crises, and homelessness, which will serve people who otherwise would fill jails and emergency rooms. Iowa City needs Mims’ continual leadership in this endeavor as well as the ongoing 15-point Affordable Housing Action Plan.

With these endorsements, the DI Editorial Board would also like to draw attention to two issues we feel that the candidates should inform themselves more on: LGBTQ+ issues and disability rights.

At a forum on Oct. 26, the candidates were asked what the term ‘gender-queer’ meant to them, and only Ryan Hall, who said he identified as such, seemed to know what the word meant. We value Iowa City’s legacy of inclusiveness and hope that the elected city councilors will understand that they must understand certain identities to effectively serve them.

When asked about disability rights, the candidates were unaware of what the concerns are or what the definition is, mostly bringing up mobility-related accessibility, such as curb ramps. However, all candidates expressed an interest in listening to the community; the DI Editorial Board encourages the city councilors to persist in their desire for inclusiveness and justice.

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