Coralville City Council endorsements

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Coralville residents have the opportunity to seat a new council majority in November. Looming dual challenges of growth and debt provide a backdrop and the need for nuanced discussions on what Coralville is and can be.

To fill three seats on the five-member council, voters will choose from seven candidates — five newcomers and two incumbents. Mayor John Lundell is running unopposed; council member Bill Hoeft did not seek re-election.

Incumbents on the ballot are Thomas Gill, a local dentist and 30-year veteran of city government, and Laurie Goodrich, co-director of a University of Iowa faith-based athletic organization who is serving her first term. Newcomers include Cindy Riley, owner of Winans Chocolates & Coffees, Miriam Timmer-Hackert, a mediator and lawyer, Imad Youssif, a forensic accountant and business owner, Meghann Foster, a digital strategist and adjunct lecturer at UI, and Elizabeth Dinschel, a historian and federal employee.

Our endorsements reflect Coralville’s need for a strong understanding of its past, when growth and development proceeded largely unfettered and chaotic, and fresh eyes for new challenges that threaten neighborhood vitality and workforce development. We believe election of Gill, Foster and Riley provides this balance.

“I want to make sure that other families are able to come to Coralville and grow and thrive the way my family has been able to do,” Foster said. “As we grow, we can’t price people out of our community.”

Foster believes community development and economic development must go hand-in-hand. She’d like to explore inclusionary zoning in new developments, and protect established neighborhoods from blight and gentrification. To address the city’s debt in excess of $200 million, she favors a temporary moratorium on use of tax increment financing.

“As we see the results of decades of planning come to fruition, it’s clear that Coralville has made smart investments. However, as we move forward, we need to pursue other innovative and organic means of generating growth and find opportunities to pay down our debt quickly,” she said.

“If we consider TIF and other smilar tools in the future, the projects should be thoroughly vetted for meaningful economic impact at the local level. It’s not in the best interest of our community to use incentives if there is no clear benefit. Let’s focus on projects that generate high-paying jobs and use local vendors and contractors on projects.”

Riley’s rich background in business, both large and small, will be invaluable as this retail-centric community navigates shifting economic trends.

“A strong economy is one that is diverse, with many different employment and business options. It’s an economy that will give Coralville residents an opportunity earn a good wage and raise a family in a beautiful community,” she said.

She is also focused on needs related to housing and affordable child care.

“I support working with local housing agencies to track and measure both housing and child care services in Coralville. Then, we should establish a comprehensive community plan that supports residents. It’s the entire network of services and policies that can support families — fair tax rates, reasonable utility costs, quality services to fill gaps like the community food bank, good transportation options and education assistance that helps people navigate all the things our community has to offer.”

Institutional history is held by Gill, who openly admits he is seeking re-election to see the arena and UI health care facility opened in Iowa River Landing. But Gill previously served as a council visionary, helping craft vital zoning and development ordinances.

“Future growth will be in the west, and I served on the West Land Use committee, which developed a document to guide growth in that area,” he said. “Changes have also begun in our interior Old Town area — you can see it along Fifth Street — to provide rehabilitated properties with higher density.”

He understands the city must focus on basic services like emergency responders and infrastructure, and will keep those services a priority as the community grapples with development along the Forevergreen Road arterial and addressing overall affordability.

“It’s clear that Coralville can’t rely on the state or anyone else,” he said, “we have to be proactive and continue to move forward.”

• Comments: (319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

Learn more about the Coralville City Council candidates:

Elizabeth Dinschel

Meghann Foster

Thomas Gill

Laurie Goodrich

Cindy Riley

Miriam Timmer-Hackert

Imad Youssif

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