Rely on experienced leadership to move Cedar Rapids forward

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Cedar Rapids is an award-winning city with an exciting future.

As a community, we’ve come back strong from the 2008 flood. Today, we have important work to do in our neighborhoods, on our streets and around our river. In this critical time, we need experienced leadership to move the city forward.

City Hall comes with a steep learning curve. With a $600 million budget and over 1,500 city employees delivering hundreds of services daily to our 130,000 residents, working effectively with the council, citizens and other local governments in our metropolitan area requires know-how, energy and experience.

I have the experience to make progress for you on my very first day in office. As an eight-year City Council member, including six years as mayor pro tem (vice mayor), with over 10 years on the city’s volunteer planning and zoning commission, my government service spans two decades. As your mayor, I will take what I’ve learned to strengthen our community.

Cedar Rapids should be known as the most vibrant and livable city in the country. We offer urban perks with a friendly, hometown feel. I want us to inspire people to move here and stay forever. We need to provide everyone with an opportunity to become a community contributor. To accomplish such a bold vision, we must first excel at the basics.

As your mayor, I will work with council members to prioritize street improvements, good jobs and our flood protection plan. Working with our neighborhoods, we will invest in the best public safety practices and ensure a variety of urban and suburban homes, in all price ranges, with a focus on affordable housing.

As your mayor, I will work to update our parks and recreation offerings, keep our libraries open, and renew our plans for a community recreation and senior center to integrate people of all ages. As a city, we will focus on business and job recruitment and encourage local entrepreneurs. We will strive to be a city that preserves history while embracing the latest technologies. Above all, we will create a culture that welcomes and includes all citizens.

As a city, we need to do a better job communicating with the public. After all, this is your city.

As mayor, I will hold two official neighborhood meetings a month, rotating locations so you can ask questions and contribute to city plans. I will work hard to bring fresh voices into City Hall. As a part of the strong leadership team that brought the city back after the flood, I want to apply the lessons we learned downtown to revitalize neighborhoods throughout our city.

When I chaired the Chamber of Commerce, we worked with labor organizations and nonprofit leaders to change the city’s form of government. As a result, today, we have a more responsive government and we’ve built lasting community coalitions to make future progress.

As mayor pro tem, I noticed how a few problem properties could cause serious issues for a neighborhood. Rather than have our safety, inspections, animal control, and solid waste personnel make individual visits, through the development of the SAFE-CR ordinance, I championed coordinated staff efforts, and ultimately, safer communities.

As the president of the Junior League of Cedar Rapids, I led the charge to design and build the Madge Phillips Shelter, our city’s first shelter for homeless women and their children. As the founder of Vernon Research Group and a former professor at the University of Iowa College of Business Entrepreneurial Center, I know what it takes to build a small business, create jobs, manage a prudent and sensible budget, invest in a workforce, and deliver on promises.

I’m running to be mayor of Cedar Rapids because I love this city.

With a strong vision, two-decades of government experience, and a proven track record of bringing people together from the public and private sector to solve complex problems, I know I can make Cedar Rapids an even better place to live, work and enjoy. I will represent the energy and enthusiasm of our city each and every day. I want to work with all people of this city, for all our neighborhoods. Together, we can build an even better Cedar Rapids.

• Monica Vernon is a candidate for mayor of Cedar Rapids

FORUM INFORMATION — The Gazette and KGAN invite the community to a Cedar Rapids Mayoral Forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the downtown public library. Candidates Vernon and Hart will share their platforms and vision as potential leaders for the city through one-on-one interviews, a moderated question-and-answer session and an issues-based speed round. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required due to limited seating. Register at thegazette.com/crmayor or by phoning (319) 398-8240. The forum also will be live-streamed on The Gazette’s website and Facebook page.

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