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Coralville Mayor-elect Meghann Foster envisions the city’s future
Foster is the first woman elected mayor in the city
CORALVILLE — The city of Coralville is at a critical point, Mayor-elect Meghann Foster said, and she ran for the seat to be part of shaping the city’s long-term vision.
Foster will be a key player as the city continues discussions about economic development, affordable housing and how to strengthen social services when she is sworn in to begin serving in January.
Foster made history when she was elected Nov. 2 without opposition to her first term, becoming the first female mayor of Coralville in the city’s 148-year history. While Foster said that it can be tough for women elected officials at every level of government, she praised her council colleagues and city staff for the support they’ve given her.
“I'm lucky that we've got great staff,” Foster said. “That's one of the biggest things that I'm really proud of in Coralville is that I feel like we've got tremendous individuals working on behalf of the city.”
Foster announced her candidacy shortly after Mayor John Lundell announced he would not seek a fifth term. In her announcement, Foster said Lundell “has been a role model of leadership and community service.” Lundell has served as an elected official for 18 years. He was a member of the Coralville City Council for 10 years before being elected as mayor in 2013. A retirement reception for Lundell will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Brown Deer Golf Club.
Foster, who has lived in Coralville for two decades, was elected to the City Council starting in 2017. Foster said she saw her run for council as taking her service to the community to the next level, having already been a volunteer and participant in the area.
Something Foster had to think about, she said, was no longer being a voting member on the council. Under Coralville’s government, the mayor is elected to a two-year term but does not vote with the five-member council. But she views the role of mayor as both setting the agenda for meetings and the whole community — “having a vision of what you want to do and then working with the community and your colleagues to shape that.”
Foster serves on the Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County and the Johnson County Juvenile Justice and Youth Development policy board. She is also vice chair of the Coralville Community Food Pantry’s board of directors.
She is the community engagement coordinator for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program and an educator at the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Foster said her work with domestic violence program has had a “tremendous impact” on her role as an elected official in thinking about how to approach access to social services and housing.
Foster noted she is proud of a wage theft resolution she brought before council. The resolution disqualifies people or entities who have been found guilty of wage theft from entering into contracts with the city.
The focus on affordable housing during her term as a council member is another aspect Foster is most proud of — and something she wants to continue to focus on as mayor as the city works to diversify its housing stock.
“You need to be able to have housing for a wide variety of income levels, housing types, different needs,” Foster said.
In addition to affordable housing, Foster has three other main priorities for her upcoming term that she was campaigning on: increasing funding and access to social services; ensuring community development and economic development work together; and making the city more inclusive.
“I feel like we have done an outstanding job of building our community over the years, growing our community over the years,” Foster said. “ … Now, I think we need to think even bigger and just think about ways that everybody can enjoy the amenities of this community.”
Foster said the city needs to ensure that everybody who comes to Coralville can live in the city and feels included in programs and policies — and that services are easy to access. She added that it’s important for the council to look at the impacts of decisions and what that means for current and future residents.
An example Foster brought up was discussions over economic development and how it fits into a broader discussion of what else is needed. “If we want people to come here, start a business here, they need to be able to afford to live here,” Foster said. “They need to be able to have access to affordable child care. They need to be able to have access to services that they need.”
The five members of the council currently are paid $4,905.60 a year, City Clerk Thorsten Johnson said earlier this year. The mayor currently earns $9,813 per year, Johnson said.
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