Tyler Olson announces bid for at-large Cedar Rapids City Council seat

Ralph Russell will not seek re-election

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Former state representative and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tyler Olson announced on Tuesday he will seek the at-large Cedar Rapids City Council seat held by Ralph Russell, who announced the same day he will not seek re-election.

Olson said his priorities include economic security, community safety, job creation and infrastructure.

“I plan to bring the skills I’ve learned running a small business and advocating for Cedar Rapidians in the Iowa Legislature to the City Council to work toward an open and inclusive vision of progress for our great city,” Olson said in a statement.

Olson, a Cedar Rapids native, is chief executive of Paulson Electric and president of SiteGen Solar, which he said are fourth-generation, family owned businesses. Olson served as a Cedar Rapids representative in the Iowa House from 2007 to 2015. Olson briefly sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2013 before dropping out of the race.

In his announcement he touted his efforts as a representative to help Cedar Rapids secure hundreds of millions of dollars from the state for flood recovery and protection.

“Cedar Rapids city government should efficiently execute its basic functions and make key investments that benefit every citizen and business,” Olson said.

Olson thus far is the only candidate seeking the at-large seat. The candidate filing period is Aug. 28 to Sept. 21, and the election is on Nov. 7.

Russell, 70, said on Tuesday he has decided against re-election to expand his business Russell Energy.

The engineer and former chief executive at HR Green Inc. has held the seat for one term during which he played a key role as chairman of the city’s flood committee. Russell said he is proud of the progress the city has made during his time on starting the flood control system, repairing city streets and developing an economic development program that is predictable for developers.

At Russell Energy, Russell said he will focus on providing services for solar and other renewable energies and energy security. He said he plans to continue in public service. He hopes to continue serving the flood committee in some way and would like to someday serve as a Cedar Rapids representative on the Iowa Transportation Commission.

“There’s the time consuming element, and I’m always looking to do something more,” Russell said. “I couldn’t see myself in the same role for another four years.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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