116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Oct. 13, 2021 5:00 am, Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 3:25 pm
Mike Mbanza and Chris Hoffman are on the ballot for North Liberty mayor. ► Get to know the other candidates
Name: Chris Hoffman
Office sought: Mayor of North Liberty
Age: 48 (born May 5, 1973)
Occupation: Vice president, solar sales, Moxie Solar — North Liberty
Campaign website: facebook.com/ChrisHoffmanforNorthLiberty
Have you held office before? If so, what office did you hold?
Yes. I've served on the North Liberty City Council since 2007.
Personal bio: My wife, Valerie, and I moved to North Liberty on Halloween Day 2002. At the time, we chose NL because of the location in the corridor. We’ve since grown to love this city, and have been very active in the growth and development. We have a freshman and 5th grader in the ICCSD.
I am the VP, Sales for NL-based Moxie Solar, and have been with them since nearly the beginning as their 5th employee. Almost 8 years later we now serve 26 states with over 350 employees.
I volunteer with the NL Optimist Club and also with the Friends of Coralville Lake.
I’ve served as a North Liberty city councilor since 2007, and have served alongside 4 mayors and 11 other council members during that time. I ran for city council 14 years ago because the city was experiencing significant growth, and was finding it difficult to stay in front. For over 10 years now, though, we’ve not only kept up with the growth, but successfully planned for and developed our city into much of what you see today.
Why are you running for city council?
I’m running for mayor because of my passion to serve our residents and community. I’ve served as a city councilor since 2007 and think our community will agree that I have championed our residents, businesses, nonprofits, and our schools ever since.
I bring a lot of experience with, and knowledge of, the city to the mayor’s role. I’ve worked with our current city council for 2 years now and have built relationships with them. I know and understand the work they will do in the years ahead. I know how much time they put into serving our city and I will be an advocate of theirs.
I also know our city staff and the time and effort they put into our city and community. Some of them have worked for the city longer than I’ve served on council, while I have helped to hire a few others. I know they work each day to provide for a safer, healthier, inclusive, prosperous, and welcoming community. I know how important it is for city staff to have a mayor that advocates for them as well.
Most importantly, I know our residents and businesses needs because I’ve worked and volunteered alongside them at planning meetings, community events, fundraisers, and ribbon cuttings. I am a parent, volunteer, employee, and consumer within North Liberty. I know and love this city.
How do you rate the city’s current performance? What areas are going well, and what could be improved?
As a 14-year member of the city council, I’m incredibly proud of the city’s performance. Our staff and city council have positioned the city as a trusted partner within the county, the corridor, and the state.
We’ve managed our incredible population growth with careful planning, purposeful examination, determined commitment and sound budgeting. At the same time, we’ve maintained a relatively consistent tax rate as well as a remarkable Moody’s bond rating of Aa2.
The biggest area of opportunity, and something I think a lot of cities and entities struggle with, is effective communication. We cannot assume someone with a question will know where to find the answer. Instead, we must find effective, and sometimes new, ways to get information to our residents. Our newly formed Neighborhood Ambassadors program is an excellent example of trying to bring information closer to our residents. This will help us to be more inclusive of those we serve while also looking to find ways to more efficiently provide city services.
What are the three largest issues facing the community and what will you do to address them?
1. Creating, and providing for, Equity in our community is a commitment we must make to each other. As a city we must continue to purposefully listen to, and find, ways we could do better; from setting policies to delivering services.
The city is taking some action already, such as:
Creating the city’s first Social Justice Racial Equity report in August of 2020. This report details the interaction of our police department with our community and the goals it has in the year ahead.
Creating Neighborhood Ambassadors. Providing a conduit through Ambassadors will help the city to communicate more effectively. Did you know the city’s website is translatable in 4 languages? English, Chinese, French, and Spanish are all options.
Creating an Outreach and Equity Coordinator position in the city. This staff person will work on equity initiatives for seniors, low-income residents, non-native English speakers, and communities of color, among others.
2. Connecting our community will come in many forms. As mentioned, the city has looked to our Neighborhood Ambassadors to help the city provide for more effective/efficient communication.
3. Climate, and the impacts on the world around us, cannot be ignored. We need to understand the impact we have, and how we can solve for the collective good of our city.
I will reengage our Energy Efficiency Committee at the city to find ways we can solve for the crisis of our generation.
If you were forced to cut the city’s budget, how would you approach these reductions? What areas would you look to for savings and why?
I think the issue of cutting a city’s budget comes to us each year during our Budget Setting Sessions. We set goals as a council/staff and then find the best, and most effective way, to achieve them. In reality, our Department Heads have a list of to-do’s that oftentimes outpaces a budget, initially, and they must realize efficiencies or reduce their requests in order to achieve our goals.
If the budget were already set, and moneys were allocated, but it needed to be reduced, I would first look at the issue through the lens of Equity. What services/programs/tools provide for the most equitable outcome to our residents. Those items would be preserved as much as possible.
If a budget item could be delayed for a year, or longer, it would be trimmed. Examples of this may include new equipment, new hires, or new programming. Other line items that could be trimmed with the least impact on services provided to our residents would next in line.
What new policies might you propose for the city to enact? Why do you think they are necessary?
New policies I’d like to propose turn toward providing greater equity in the city. Equity in availability of services, equity in housing, equity in hiring at the city, and equity in zoning, for example.
I would propose our Equity policies first come from the use of something called the Racial Equity Toolkit, by the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. The Toolkit is a guide for decision-making in government that applies specific measures to eliminate inequity and promote equity.
The Toolkit promotes a conversation among stakeholders that helps to identify who will benefit and/or be harmed by decisions we make. Little decisions over a long period of time have led us to this moment and we can bend the arc of history back if we do so with deliberate decision-making and consistent application.
Policies that promote equity are a benefit to our entire community. If a policy is made to benefit one but can also benefit many, then it is a policy worth pursuing and implementing. The phrase “A rising tide lifts all boats” is an apt analogy.
Are there quality of life improvements that could be made in the community? What are they and how would you fund them?
Quality of Life improvements are a part of our budget each year. They can vary from year to year and be considered a huge success if just one person’s life is made easier.
Quality of Life improvements can look like providing more programming at the library or constructing a driveway all the way through Centennial Park.
It can also mean having free public events throughout the summer, or during the coldest of winter.
It could mean providing a free pair of ice skates for 15 minutes or an overnight camping project for a family.
It could mean connecting a bike trail in a neighborhood, or setting aside space for a dog park.
It could mean constructing a new road to access a new school or supplying water service to a new commercial development.
It could mean elevating the conversation around race and equity in our community and listening to each other.
We’ve done all of these items I’ve described, as a team of staff and council.
There’s a pretty good chance none of these ideas came from me, specifically.
There’s an equally pretty good chance, though, that I asked what others wanted and how I could help them to get there.
That is what I will do as your mayor, too.