116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s time for a change in leadership of Iowa’s second-largest city, Cedar Rapids voters decided Tuesday, narrowing a four-way race for mayor to Amara Andrews and Tiffany O’Donnell, who outright defeated incumbent Brad Hart to head to a Nov. 30 runoff election.
No candidates reached the necessary 50 percent of the vote, so the top two vote-getters — TrueNorth employee Andrews and Women Lead Change Chief Executive Officer O’Donnell — have less than a month to vie for the city’s top elected role. O’Donnell emerged with over 40 percent of the vote — 10,991 total — while Andrews edged out Hart by a 24-vote margin to finish second with 7,332 votes, according to unofficial results.
Quaker Oats employee Myra Colby Bradwell, formerly known as Gregory Hughes, finished last in the race for mayor with 411 votes.
Results are subject to a final canvass before being official. More results can be viewed at thegazette.com/campaigns-elections.
If elected, Andrews would be the city’s first Black mayor and the first Black woman on the nine-member Cedar Rapids City Council. She has campaigned as a progressive Democrat in a field of registered Republicans, who have bristled at partisanship influencing the race and maintained that there is no place for party politics in City Hall.
Andrews’ platform centers on fostering more public input in city decisions and operations, supporting and partnering with not-for-profits to address the city’s unmet needs and paving a path for equitable recovery from the 2020 derecho and pandemic.
“Despite the attacks on me” — likely referring to news coverage of a legal dispute over a home she and her husband had built in Illinois — “we still have lots of support and so we will hope to prevail in 28 days,” Andrews said in a brief interview with The Gazette.
O’Donnell has campaigned on finishing derecho cleanup and accelerating flood control on both sides of the Cedar River. She also has centered on recruitment and retention of workers and businesses, as well as creating a more vibrant urban center surrounded by unique neighborhoods.
“I just couldn’t be happier about how it turned out, and I hope that it’s a bit of a referendum on how we want to see campaigns run,” O’Donnell said. “We have to be if we are tired of divisiveness in politics. We have an opportunity to be the change, and this is our opportunity.”
Campaign disclosure reports filed Oct. 28, the most recent filings before the election, showed Andrews had raised $181,440 — two-thirds of which came from out-of-state donors, though she had the most Cedar Rapids contributions, and $16,945.10 on hand.
O’Donnell raised $136,770 and had the highest cash total raised from Cedar Rapids donors. She reported $13,045.79 cash on hand.
The candidate elected to the part-time role of mayor, which pays about $39,000 a year, will be only the third woman to serve in this position. The last female Cedar Rapids mayor was Kay Halloran, who left office in 2010.
The new mayor’s four-year term begins at noon Jan. 1, 2022.
Casting his ballot Tuesday at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church on 42nd Street NE, Mike Antonelli, 75, said he voted for O’Donnell, who he remembered from her days as a news anchor for CBS2/FOX 28. Antonelli said he wanted improved city streets and a revitalized downtown.
“It was time for a change in the city,” Antonelli said.
Molly Monk, 27, voted at the Linn County Harris Building on Sixth Street SE and said she supported Andrews for her role with the Advocates for Social Justice, which formed after George Floyd was murdered in May 2020 to push for racial justice.
“It was pretty obvious to me that I wanted to support a candidate who was at the front of that and who was active in that,” Monk said.
Plus, Monk said Hart’s response to the 2020 derecho “was not what our city deserved.”
“Cedar Rapids when I moved here in 2016 was built on this ethos in my mind of, ‘We take care of each other during disasters, and we recover from floods and other natural disasters so well,’ and then Brad Hart didn't live up to what I thought the city should be,” Monk said.
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