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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — Keith Jones, a retired banker and longtime Coralville resident, is expected to be appointed to the Coralville City Council next week.
Pending formal council approval, Jones will fill the vacancy on the council created in April when council member Jill Dodds resigned.
The council is expected to approve the appointment at its meeting Tuesday evening. Once approved, Jones would be sworn in after the vote and participate in his first meeting as a council member. Jones will serve on the council until the November 2023 election.
Jones’ experience and community involvement stood out to the council.
Last month, the council voted 3-1 to appoint someone to fill the vacancy rather than hold a special election. The council weighed both options and ultimately decided to go the appointment route because it would fill the vacancy faster and not have a cost attached.
Dodds, a council member for a decade, resigned at the mayor’s request following the arrest of Dodds’ husband on a child sexual abuse charge. Her husband, Jeffrey Dodds, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and a jury trial has been scheduled for Oct. 4 at the Johnson County Courthouse, according to court records.
Seven residents applied
Seven residents applied to fill the vacancy and were invited to be interviewed by the mayor and city council members Thursday evening at City Hall during a special meeting of the city council.
In addition to Jones, the council interviewed Barry Bedford, Eric Gissendanner, Mackensie Graham, Phuong Nguyen and Fay Vittetoe. Kent Christan applied but did not show up for the interview.
The council asked the candidates a variety of questions ranging from thoughts on the city’s zoning code and use of TIF, how to make the city more inclusive, how to engage residents and the candidate’s qualifications and priorities.
Each candidate was also asked if they intended to run for council next year. In previous discussions and after candidate interviews, Council member Mitch Gross and Mayor Meghann Foster said the advantage of incumbency should be given by the voters.
Council members complimented what each of the six candidates would bring to the position, saying it was a tough decision as they discussed who to select following the interviews.
The council ultimately came to the consensus that Jones was the best fit for the position given his community involvement, experience and intention not to run in 2023.
“I’ve had a lot of experience working with Mr. Jones,” Foster said. “I’ve seen his work firsthand. He’s so soft-spoken, and I think very humble about the impact that he has had on this community.”
Jones has lived in Coralville for 47 years. He said he’s had a desire to serve on the council for many years but felt his job as a banker at Hills Bank and Trust Co. would have created too many conflicts of interest.
Now retired, Jones said his financial background could be an asset to the city, as well as his general knowledge of city operations. Jones said both in the interview and on his application he would not run in 2023.
He served on the Coralville Public Library board of trustees for more than 30 years.
Jones is currently president of various groups in the community, including the Coralville Public Library Foundation, Coralville Community Fund and Coralville Community Food Pantry.
He also has been involved with various activities and events over the years. Jones said Coralville has always had a strong sense of volunteerism.
During his interview, Jones discussed the importance of engaging residents and how a priority of his would be to work with the council to help bring various voices to the table, especially residents of marginalized communities.
Jones said affordable housing should continue to be a priority of the council and working to expand these efforts. He highlighted the city’s housing rehabilitation program, which assists homeowners with exterior improvements to their homes.
Jones told The Gazette after Thursday’s meeting that he will try to get up to speed as fast as he can once he is appointed.
The seat’s term runs through December 2023. Jones will serve up until the November 2023 election when whoever wins the election would be seated. Council members are paid $5,312 annually.
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