So the list of folks who might want to be the next mayor of Cedar Rapids is shrinking.
Tyler Olson, a former state representative from Cedar Rapids, told me this past weekend he’s decided not to run. He’d been thinking it over for a few months.
“It really just comes down to being really busy at the office and loving going to baseball games and gymnastics and all that kind of stuff,” said Olson, a father of two who is chief executive at Paulson Electric and president of SiteGen Solar. “I’ve had a couple of years of decompressing and getting to make it to 100 percent of those things.
“Being mayor, there’s a lot of nights and weekends expected to do that job well,” said Olson, who might run for an at-large council seat.
Olson launched a campaign for governor in the summer of 2013 but abandoned his bid for the Democratic nomination as his marriage ended later that year. He didn’t run for re-election to the Iowa House in 2014.
On Saturday, Steve Shriver, founder of Eco Lips, president of the New Bohemia District and co-owner of Brewhemia, announced on Facebook he’s not running for mayor.
“I honestly think I would do a good job and would likely win the election (thanks to my massive grass roots support) but the timing is just not good,” Shriver posted. “I need to focus on my businesses and my family. Thanks to everyone who has shown their support.”
I’ve also been hearing Dale Todd’s name mentioned lately as a possible candidate. But the developer and former parks commissioner doesn’t sound eager to jump in.
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“I’m right in the middle of three large-scale quality-of-life projects that are very important to me. I don’t want to screw those up,” said Todd, who is a major player in the effort to make Cedar Lake a recreation destination, as well as the “Sleeping Giant” pedestrian bridge and other evolving New Bo projects. “Because once you throw your hat into the ring, it’s hands off, you know?”
Todd, who also is involved with the Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities, or SET, task force addressing community violence, isn’t ruling anything out yet. But he says he won’t run without family support.
Council member Kris Gulick was first to declare a mayoral candidacy. Attorney Bradley Hart and former Sixth Judicial District corrections director Gary Hinzman are names that keep popping up. Former council member and congressional hopeful Monica Vernon might run.
“I’m looking at it,” said Vernon, who served for eight years on the City Council. She plans to make a decision in the next month or two. “I just really feel like the best is yet to come.”
Current Mayor Ron Corbett isn’t running for re-election as he prepares a likely run for governor in 2018.
“The next mayor is going to be an important choice,” Olson said. He argues November’s winner will deal with what he sees as growing friction between folks who want to keep the city’s rapid post-flood momentum going and those with fiscal concerns who want to pump the brakes.
That’s going to be a critical tug-of-war in the years ahead. How does Cedar Rapids manage its desire to support exciting projects and promote growth while also managing potential budget challenges?
It’s the sort of big question demanding a big debate, if only the campaign would stop shrinking.
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