Cedar Rapids District 5 City Council race headed for Dec. 5 runoff

Vanorny, Shields to go head-to-head; three newcomers elected

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The District 5 Cedar Rapids City Council race is headed to a Dec. 5 runoff after top vote-getters Ashley Vanorny and incumbent Justin Shields failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday.

Vanorny, 32, received more than 43 percent of the vote — 919 votes — while Shields, 75, got more than 40 percent — 859 votes. A third candidate, Keith Wiggins, received more than 15 percent of the vote.

“If anything, the citizens have proved I’m right on the money and they’re ready to support me,” said Vanorny, an IT analyst at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, after results came in Tuesday. “When you go up against someone who has 12 years of service, you know it’s a challenge. But I’m not scared of a challenge.”

Shields, 75, who is seeking his fourth term on the council and is mayor pro tempore, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

In other council races, three newcomers were elected to the eight-member council Tuesday — Tyler Olson to fill the at-large seat, Dale Todd in District 3, and Marty Hoeger in District 1.

Olson, 41, a solar energy executive, pulled in 9,393 votes — nearly 57 percent — to take the at-large seat left vacant by council member Ralph Russell, who did not seek re-election. He bested Lisa Kuzela, who got 4,977 votes and Damian Epps with 2,014 votes.

Olson said he is ready to get started serving residents and first on his list is developing next year’s budget. He also hopes to work on rebuilding the community’s trust in local government.

“People want to be engage with local government and it is important City Council do what it can to collect input from folks across the city,” he said.

Todd, 60, former parks and public property commissioner, received 2,632 votes — nearly 71 percent — to win the District 3 seat over fellow candidates Keith Rippy and Justin Wasson, who earned 297 and 771 votes respectively.

Although there are three newcomers on the council from this race, Todd expects the direction of local government to be consistent.

“The challenge is not just to maintain the progress but figure out how we can enhance it,” he said. “But at the same time, we have to get a handle on this issue of poverty that is impacting some of our core neighborhoods. It’s complex, but we have to start the discussion.”

In District 1, Hoeger, 45, came out on top with 1,773 votes — nearly 53 percent — to opponent Ryan Russell’s 1,539 votes.

Among his first priorities, Hoeger said he hopes to continue the discussion on the city’s flood control system.

“I think we have a lot of things to do and flood protection is one to make sure we continue the fight to secure funding for flood protection,” Hoeger said, referring to the more than $200 million gap in funding for the city’s $725 million project.

Vanorny echoed Hoeger’s sentiments on the importance of flood protection, but said her No. 1 priority is bringing more affordable housing to the area.

Some Cedar Rapids residents casting votes on Tuesday said they are optimistic about seeing some new faces on the council.

“I’d like to see some change in City Hall,” said Maggie Schuyler, 66, voting in District 3 on Tuesday. “Change is healthy and I think we need to get young blood (on the council).”

Those elected begin their four-year terms at noon on Jan. 2. The part-time city council position came with a salary of $17,693 in fiscal year 2017.

The deadline to request a recount of votes for Cedar Rapids is Friday.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

For all of The Gazette's Election 2017 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.





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