Diverse district demands division


Sometimes, choosing between candidates for city council elections can feel a lot like those “find the difference” cartoon quizzes.

At first glance, everything appears to be pretty much identical. You have to search for subtle distinctions, the placement of an arm, say, or the pattern on a sweater — or approaches to budget cuts and gradations of support for essential city services, as the case may be.

Not so this season in Iowa City’s District A, where voters will choose Nov. 8 between two candidates who stand in stark relief.

In one corner, there’s family doctor and University of Iowa clinical professor Rick Dobyns.

In the other, local radio station owner and on-air personality Steve Soboroff — aka KCJJ-AM 1630’s Captain Steve.

Both are longtime Iowa City residents by choice — both went to school at the UI and decided to return to make the city their home. Both have given back through significant community contributions.

But when it comes to the details, Soboroff and Dobyns are political yin and yang: The gown and the town; the Doctor and the Captain.

Dobyns supported the 21-ordinance back when most city residents thought it was nothing but a big wet blanket. Soboroff still thinks it was a dumb way to go.

Dobyns sees a “unique city among unique cities,” which should capitalize on the overlap between the UI campus and downtown.

Soboroff thinks the UI should back off, especially when it comes to off-campus policing.

And as for Iowa City police, well they should focus their attention on the real public safety problem, Soboroff says — the break-ins, assaults and gunplay he says still plague Iowa City neighborhoods south of Highway 6.

You almost wonder if the two candidates live in the same town. And technically, they do.

But Soboroff lives on the city’s southeast side. Dobyns on the west — areas of town that are as night-and-day different as the candidates themselves.

Both Soboroff and Dobyns give you the feeling they’d represent their parts of the city well.

But because District A is so sprawling, no matter who is elected, residents from one or another part of the district will once again have to go without a council representative with firsthand knowledge of their neighborhood’s challenges and strengths.

So District A voters have a clear choice to make during next month’s election. And something else is equally clear: It’s time to add a fourth district to Iowa City’s city council.Comments: (319) 339-3154;

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.