116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Mayor Brad Hart said Tuesday he is endorsing challenger Tiffany O’Donnell as his successor in the Nov. 30 runoff after voters decided last week that City Hall needed a change in elected leadership.
“Tiffany O’Donnell has leadership experience, broad knowledge of the community, ran a nonpartisan campaign and has demonstrated the high ethical standards we need in the mayor of Iowa’s second largest city.” Hart said in a statement. “I strongly encourage my supporters to help elect Tiffany O’Donnell as the next mayor of Cedar Rapids.”
O’Donnell, the chief executive officer of Women Lead Change, in a statement thanked Hart for his endorsement.
“He and I share a deep love for Cedar Rapids,” O’Donnell said. “The city is poised for great things based on much of the good work that he, city staff and the current council have done.”
Because no candidate won 50 percent of the vote in last week’s election, the two top vote-getters — O’Donnell and TrueNorth Companies employee Amara Andrews — will face each other in a Nov. 30 runoff election for mayor.
Andrews said she was expecting Hart’s announcement. In a statement, she highlighted her own leadership experience as TrueNorth’s head of business development and communications for the transportation division.
“Our campaign was prepared for this news,” Andrews said. “Brad and Tiffany share conservative values. But it is my hope that those individuals who supported Brad Hart — because of his experience — will now consider me as the best choice for mayor.”
Hart opened the door last Friday to making an endorsement, when he announced he did not plan to seek a recount in the close race for the second-place finish to proceed to the runoff. Hart said his decision was “in part to avoid the cost and the efforts of those who would need to be involved.”
He decided to bow out of the race after a count of over 100 provisional ballots, or ballots that needed to be checked for eligibility to be included, cast countywide boosted Andrews’ margin over Hart, from 24 votes on election night to 41.
Andrews finished with a total 7,360 votes out of 26,176, according to official results. O’Donnell cemented her place in the runoff as the top vote-getter with 11,023 votes.
The Linn County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday to canvass election results. Supervisor Stacey Walker recused himself from voting to approve the results because of his involvement in Andrews’ campaign. He said he refrained from voting “in the interest of transparency and fairness.”
Andrews' expenditures reported Oct. 28, the most recent campaign disclosures filed before the Nov. 2 election, show her campaign paid $15,620 to Sage Strategies, Walker’s consulting firm, which records show he formed about eight months ago.
“My vision includes a brighter Cedar Rapids for all,” O’Donnell said. “That includes the thousands of you who voted for Mayor Hart. I humbly ask those who supported Mayor Hart, to now join us in our journey to City Hall and vote for me” on Nov. 30.
Hart’s endorsement of O’Donnell doesn’t entirely come as a surprise. In the days leading up to the Nov. 2 election, his team had campaigned against Andrews, sending text messaged pointing potential voters to KWWL-TV stories about Andrews’ legal dispute over a home she and her husband had built in Illinois and potential ethics violations stemming from her campaign’s role in coordinating an anti-O’Donnell campaign mailer.
Hart said being mayor requires proven leadership, an understanding of the community’s strengths and weaknesses and a desire to serve others. Additionally, Hart said “Cedar Rapidians must trust that their mayor is always telling the truth and making decisions based solely on what is best for Cedar Rapids.”
As Andrews has taken criticism for running as Democrat for the traditionally nonpartisan office, Hart emphasized that nonpartisanship is necessary so the mayor and other eight City Council members can work effectively with whichever party controls state and federal governments to “keep moving Cedar Rapids forward.”
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Hart congratulated colleagues Dale Todd, Tyler Olson, Marty Hoeger and Ashley Vanorny for being reelected to four-year terms and said, “I had hoped to join you, but I’m confident with all of you at the table that the city will continue to move forward.”
Although O’Donnell came out on top Election Day, Andrews and O’Donnell start from scratch as they head to the Nov. 30 runoff. The two mayoral hopefuls have just three weeks to fundraise and get out the vote once again while competing with voters’ diminished attention spans as Thanksgiving approaches.
The part-time role of mayor, to serve as one of nine on the Cedar Rapids City Council, pays about $39,000 a year.
Voters have until 5 p.m. Nov. 15 to register to vote before the runoff and to send in absentee ballot request forms, which must be received in the Linn County Auditor’s Office by that time. In-person absentee voting dates will be announced at a later time.
To vote on Election Day, eligible residents may find their polling location at linncountyelections-ia.gov/lookup.
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