116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A former Cedar Rapids mayoral candidate is trying once again to be picked as the city’s top elected official — but this time, with a different name honoring an 1800s women’s rights activist.
Myra Colby Bradwell, 64, filed nomination papers with the Linn County Auditor’s Office shortly before Thursday’s deadline to be on the Nov. 2 ballot challenging Mayor Brad Hart.
Formerly known as Gregory Hughes, Bradwell lost the city mayoral race in 2013 against then-Mayor Ron Corbett, 67 to 32 percent.
Provided there are no challenges to names on the ballot or withdrawals by the Sept. 21 deadline, Bradwell will be on the Nov. 2 ballot along with Hart, TrueNorth executive Amara Andrews, and Women Lead Change Chief Executive Officer Tiffany O’Donnell.
Hughes legally changed his name in 2018 to Myra Colby Bradwell, after the name of a publisher and political activist from the 1800s.
The famous figure tried to become the first woman admitted to the Illinois bar in 1869 but was rejected for being a married woman. Although the U.S. Supreme Court initially upheld the ruling from Illinois’ top court denying her admission, the Illinois Supreme Court eventually admitted her to the bar in 1890.
Bradwell, a Quaker Oats employee, told The Gazette he researched his eponym and changed his name because he “found real kindred spirits with her.” He said he feels “harassed” by the legal system.
“When I go to court and judges want to treat me badly, they can just treat Myra badly again,” Bradwell said. “Every time I make them call me Myra, I think she just laughs in her grave.”
He has not filed campaign committee paperwork yet with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to report campaign contributions. The deadline to do so is five days before the election.
“It’s hard to win it because I’m independent — I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a wealthy business person,” Bradwell said.
Bradwell said he would advocate for criminal justice reform and — just like in his 2013 bid for mayor — he opposes extension of the 1-cent local-option sales tax, which Cedar Rapids uses to fund its Paving for Progress street-repair program. He said he thinks it has resulted in “very little” road improvements.
Collection of the tax expires in 2024, unless voters opt on the same Nov. 2 ballot to renew it another 10 years. Since the tax took effect in 2014, Cedar Rapids has spent over $122 million in local-option sales tax revenue to fix over 60 linear miles of roadway. Of those repairs, about 70 percent of the work was done on residential streets and the rest on arterial roads.
“Once the city asks for something, they never want to give it back,” Bradwell said of the tax-extension campaign. “They’ll want to keep that forever and ever, and even add to that.”
Bradwell said he considers taxes to be too high in Cedar Rapids and he is upset with how city officials spend revenue, as he feels low-income residents are not taken care of.
“Whether it’s city, state, county or federal government, the only thing they look at us as (is) a revenue source,” Bradwell said. “We are not free people … They say they take care of our poor — they do not. We have to help everybody. If we’re all going to survive, it’s going to take all of us.”
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