116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Solar energy executive Tyler Olson, a former figure in statewide Democratic politics, is running for reelection this fall to his at-large seat on the Cedar Rapids City Council.
Olson, the president of SiteGen Solar and chief executive officer of Paulson Electric, filed nomination papers last week to be on the Nov. 2 ballot. The race currently is uncontested.
He was elected to the nine-member council in 2017 in a three-way race after Ralph Russell, who held the seat, did not seek reelection. Olson won with a total of 9,393 votes, nearly 57 percent of ballots cast.
Olson earned his bachelor’s from Claremont McKenna College and his law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. He has served on numerous boards for local not-for-profit organizations and represented Cedar Rapids in the Iowa House for eight years until 2015.
On the council, Olson serves as chair of the Flood Control System Committee and sits on the Infrastructure Committee.
During his first council bid, Olson pointed to construction of the city’s $750 million permanent Flood Control System of berms, walls, gates and pumps as a key issue. He touted his service in the Iowa House helping to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in state funds for flood recovery and protection, and vowed to bring that approach to identifying local funds to match the state and accelerate the pace of construction.
That was before the Army Corps of Engineers announced in July 2018 it would provide $117 million to help prevent future flooding. That portion can only be used on the east side of the Cedar River, as the federal government has said the west side does not meet its benefit-cost ratio threshold.
Also in 2018, the council also approved a 10-year bonding plan to help pay for flood protection, which included raising the property tax levy by 22 cents a year.
Olson told The Gazette his key priorities were continued investment in basic infrastructure, working to identify additional funding sources for flood protection, recovery from last summer’s derecho and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and resiliency to climate change.
“I think we're seeing more frequent and more intense weather events, and so the practical impact is starting to hit home,” Olson said. “The city needs to be prepared to deal with those, and we need to make sure that our partners in other levels of government who are primarily responsible for those kind of responses are up to the task as well.”
He noted that recently released Census data showed Cedar Rapids is one of the fastest-growing large cities in Iowa, which he attributed to its strength in economic development and offerings of quality-of-life amenities.
But Olson said, "For all the good news in the community, it's not shared equally. And so there's a lot of work left to do on equity and making sure that everyone in the community has the same opportunities.”
Olson will be on the Nov. 2 ballot along with candidates for four other council seats, including a slate of mayoral hopefuls, plus school board candidates.
Voters also will decide whether to extend the 1-cent local-option sales tax that funds the Paving for Progress street-repair program and whether to permanently authorize the gaming referendum in Linn County, which would keep open the door for Cedar Rapids to seek a license for a casino.
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