116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Oct. 13, 2021 5:00 am, Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 3:26 pm
Mike Mbanza and Chris Hoffman are on the ballot for North Liberty mayor. ► Get to know the other candidates
Name: Mike Mbanza
Office sought: Mayor of North Liberty
Age: 34 (born Dec. 18, 186)
Occupation: Lawyer and executive director of Path of Hope, a nonprofit organization
Campaign website: mikefornorthliberty.com
Have you held office before? If so, what office did you hold?
I serve as a volunteer in the Neighborhood Ambassador Program with the City of North liberty for the Harvest Estates Neighborhood.
Personal bio: My name is Mike Mbanza. I am the father of four beautiful children and husband to my lovely wife, Maryann.
I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and a Juris doctor’s degree from the Cooley Law School at Western Michigan University.
For the last 10 years, I have dedicated my life to public service: I have worked for different nonprofit organizations, and I currently work locally as a lawyer and serve as the Executive Director of Path of Hope, a nonprofit organization that I founded, with the mission to help low-income families.
When my father passed away, my mother was unemployed and struggled to bring food to the table every day. Shortly thereafter, I lost one of my siblings for lack of financial means to seek medical treatment for her illness. Because of the tough life I had growing up, I made it my mission to make sure that no one else goes through life the way I did. That’s why I founded Path of Hope.
Why are you running for city council?
I am running for Mayor because the population of North Liberty is rapidly growing and our current city government is struggling to keep up. Someone must stand up for the future of the North Liberty community and take steps to create the kind of community we can be proud to live in and confident of the future we will pass on to our children. This can be done by making sure that our city can provide the services and opportunities our residents expect in a timely manner and by drawing together the many hands in the community who are willing to make our city better. I want to lead the team of hardworking city council members and city staff to solve the issues that the city is currently facing.
How do you rate the city’s current performance? What areas are going well, and what could be improved?
North Liberty is the second-fastest growing city in Iowa – and previous City Councils have struggled to keep up with the needs of its residents. There is a sense of community in our neighborhoods in spite of the city’s rapid growth, including schools and parks and recreation facilities; but it is time to become more efficient and more self-sufficient in providing certain services common in our communities, like street sweepers and snowplows – at present, North Liberty depends on the good graces of the surrounding communities who lend their services to our city only after they are already done with them. Because of our rapid growth, not only has our need for these services increased, but our ability to fund these services has likewise rapidly grown… if we have the will and wisdom to make these changes happen.
What are the three largest issues facing the community and what will you do to address them?
Community Building: The sense of community that is already present here should be encouraged and built upon through these important foci –
Black Lives Matter and community policing. Like so much of America, our city continues to become more racially/ethnically diverse; and it is in everyone’s best interest to promote a safe and trustworthy relationship between our Police and the black and brown residents that live here.
Fairness and inclusion in city government and services. I will actively promote diversity and welcoming acceptance of all the people that live and work here
Covid19 and excluded workers. Many of us have benefitted from Federal programs during the pandemic – but is important to note that the pandemic has also hit some essential workers that were not eligible for Federal assistance, and they, too, should receive the help that they need to survive and thrive after the pandemic.
City Support Services: As a rapidly growing city, it is right that we should take the steps necessary to become more self-sufficient through building up our Streets & Parks Department – in both manpower and equipment – to be able to take care of our own needs. This means hiring more staff, buying more equipment, replacing the equipment that is falling apart, and providing for proper storage and maintenance for the equipment. We should also take steps to establish our own city transit service and ADA paratransit service, which will attract new residents and encourage the local economy
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?
If it were necessary to cut the city budget, I would look to do it by focusing on improving efficiency. For example, a previous city administration set up and budgeted for public bus service, but the next administration closed it and instead did a deal with a neighboring community… for a cost to the city of 2 to 3 times as much as the service they closed. I think we can do better and save money.
What new policies might you propose for the city to enact? Why do you think they are necessary?
I would like to see those workers excluded from federal and state Covid aid also get the support they need because they were just as hard-hit by the pandemic as the rest of us and many of them work in industries essential to the post-pandemic recovery of our economy.
Are there quality of life improvements that could be made in the community? What are they and how would you fund them?
Harmonizing the sometimes-adversarial relationship between police officers and minority residents and making city government more welcoming and inclusive would go far toward improving the quality of life for all North Liberty residents – and has the added bonus of being something we don’t need lots of money to fix.