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Field set for Cedar Rapids council races

Ten candidates will compete for three seats on Nov. 8

CEDAR RAPIDS — Ten candidates will compete for the three City Council seats on the Nov. 8 election ballot here.

Incumbents for two of the three seats are not seeking re-election — Chuck Wieneke in the west-side District 4 and at-large council member Tom Podzimek.

One-term incumbent Monica Vernon, 53, 326 23rd St. Dr. SE., has two challengers in the east-side District 2 race — 19-year-old Kirkwood Community College student Taylor Nelson, 7700 Hampshire Ct. NE, and perennial candidate P.T. Larson, 54, 220 28th St. Dr. SE, who has run unsuccessfully in the last 13 races for the City Council.

The candidates running for the District 4 seat that has been held by Wieneke the last four years are Jean Leaf, 70, 1605 30th St. NW, who works in retail; Scott Olson, 65, 6467 Quail Ridge Dr. SW, a Realtor with Skogman Commercial who lost a close election for mayor in 2005; Steven Rhodes, 58, 1835 Greenlefe Dr. NW, a real estate appraiser and income-tax preparer; and Cloyd “Robby” Robinson, 73, 404 Cherry Hill Rd. SW, a former state senator and former lobbyist for Iowans for Tax Relief.

Those running for the at-large seat held by Podzimek for the last six years are Carl Cortez, 66, 4118 Paradise Ct. NW, a retired IBM service technician and member of the city’s River Recreation Commission; Ann Poe, 58, 2560 Country Club Parkway SE, who worked for nearly three years as community liaison in Cedar Rapids for the state’s Rebuild Iowa Office; and Justin Wasson, 23, 1621 Washington Ave. SE, a recent Iowa State University graduate who is a hands-on vice president of operations for a pressure-washing and cleaning company once owned by his father.

Larson, who said Thursday that he was “between jobs,” called this year’s election race “too good of a one not to be a part of.”

Council incumbent Wieneke, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and former state executive, said on Thursday that he wanted to take a two-year break from city office. For him, the part-time job has been a full-time one, he said, adding that he never imagined the city would be dealing with the 2008 flood six months after he took office.

Wieneke had this advice for the new lineup of candidates:

“Show people you’re committed to running,” he said. “You ought to be out knocking on doors every day from now until the election.”

Incumbent Podzimek, who owns and operates a small construction company, said he, like Wieneke, may return to political life one day. For now, he said, he has plenty of business and family obligations and it’s time to “take a breather” from elective office.

As for the current council candidates, he said he is concerned that too many of them are running against City Hall and not for anything.

“If I was running, I’d talk about what I’m running for, not what I’m running against,” Podzimek said.

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