The (Entirely Rushed and Somewhat Half-Assed) Lit City Blues Endorsements

The Quiet Man texted me yesterday and asked for my thoughts about the upcoming election, which caused to lean back in my chair and say, "oh, yeah. There's an election coming up on Tuesday." So, despite fighting whatever form of seasonal crud ran through the family last week before landing on me and having minimal sleep and absolutely no motivation to do anything, I sat down took to the internet and did my homework.. This is what I came up with.

City Council: Our Fearless Leaders declared a 'Climate Emergency' at some point this year, which made my eyes roll so far back in my head that they just did a full 360 and popped back up the other side. I mean, part of me gets it- but, at the same time: come on, people. Have y'all seen the cost of living in this community? Too many people who work here can't afford to live here and if you have a city where that is increasingly the rule and not the exception to the rule we've got a problem. Still think that the 'Climate Emergency' (and yes, please use maximum sarcasm when imagining the air quotes I'm making around the words 'Climate Emergency') is a bigger deal? Well how about this: if the people who work here can actually afford to live here then there will be less commuting and thus, less air pollution as people commute in from Cedar Rapids and everywhere else.

From my jaded and cynical point of view, the City Council's priorities have been badly misplaced and will probably continue to be badly misplaced in the years ahead. Focusing on things that give the average Johnson County voter the vapors while ignoring practical things like expanded bus service, what to do about the big gaping hole in the Iowa City Marketplace where Lucky's used to be and generally making downtown more inclusive to the entire community and not just the few are exactly what I expect to see from the City Council going forward.

Would I like to be proven wrong? Yes, it'd be a pleasant surprise.

To be honest, looking at the crop of candidates I'm not overall enthused. Pauline Taylor and John Thomas are probably shoe-ins for their districts, but looking at the at-large race, I think I'm going to give the nod to Laura Bergus and Janice Weiner.*

School Board: I need to start paying more attention to school board stuff since we've got two kids in the district now and a third on the horizon. So what am I concerned about?

First, the whole pairing campuses/redistricting thing. I (and I expect many other parents) want the boundary shifting to stop for awhile. I'm not against the idea of pairing campuses, but the boundaries have been shifting for a few years now and I'd prefer a moratorium of at least 5 years to get a good idea of what the boundary shifts have done in terms of demographic balance before we start getting serious about pairing campuses. I mean right now, we do have one at Twain and another at Longfellow which seemed to be the two schools mentioned most in the whole 'pairing campuses' idea and so far we've had great experiences at both but I'm not ready to sign on to this whole 'paired campuses' thing just yet. Not that I'm against it, but the Eldest Spawn is currently on his third school (would have been school number two if we hadn't moved) so I'm not crazy about making it school number four anytime soon. Demographic balance is awesome, but at a certain point you need some stability for the students themselves and that's been lacking in recent years.

Second, SROs. I am not at all against the notion. I think the School District has the opportunity to design the partnership they want with the Iowa City Police- and I do think concerns about the school/prison pipeline are legitimate. I don't think police officers should be used for school discipline at all. That's not what they're for. But I do think an SRO would provided added security at the schools. I've been pretty impressed so far with the access control measures I've seen at all the schools we've dealt with so far, but more safety is always welcome. However, Iowa City being Iowa City, I don't see this happening any time soon and I'm glad that the arguments have been made in sane, logical ways because holy hell I've heard some psychotic nonsense around the idea of SROs in local schools over the years.  If I can't get my SROs, then can we at least all agree that it's well past time for the School District to get serious about Threat Assessment?

Finally, seclusion rooms. Let's just get rid of them, shall we?

Given all that, where do I land? Lisa Williams, Michael Tilley, Julie VanDyke, and Paul Roesler get the nod from me.

*I can hear the 'okay, tough guy what would YOU do better?' critics already- so, in no particular order: Directly elected Mayor, make City Council Districts actually matter-- they don't mean much right now if the whole city can vote on them regardless of district. I'd want to see the City's development focus shifted away from downtown and Riverfront Crossings and moving toward the South District, Iowa City Marketplace and Towncrest Areas as they are currently underserved (in my opinion) and deserve more options for shopping/dining/community activities than what they've got already. I'd also want to see better links between the South District and the rest of the community- Highway 6 acts an artificial barrier between neighborhoods and some physical efforts to alleviate that barrier could go a long way, I think.


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