116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Tamara Marcus, a social justice and climate action advocate, announced Monday she will challenge Dale Todd for the District 3 seat on the Cedar Rapids City Council.
Marcus, 29, a Cedar Rapids native, said she is running because she wants “the voices of the district to finally be heard.” Her official campaign launch will take place at Redmond Park, 1545 Third Ave. SE, from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday.
She co-founded the Advocates for Social Justice nonprofit last summer after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police, sparking an outcry across the nation over the disproportionate police brutality that Black Americans face. The group led local Black Lives Matter protests and pressed the City Council to commit to seven demands for police reform, among them a recently adopted citizens’ police review board to provide oversight of local law enforcement — only the second in Iowa.
In the fall, Marcus began her position with the county to use her expertise to address climate action and enhance the community’s resilience to climate events. She has coordinated recovery and replanting efforts after the Aug. 10 derecho.
Marcus graduated from Kennedy High School, earned a bachelor’s from the University of Minnesota and is a Ph.D. candidate in environmental studies at the University of New Hampshire.
She said her work through the Advocates for Social Justice — largely focused advancing racial equity and supporting Black community members — made it clear she should run for a District 3 seat, as many individuals the group aims to support live there.
The summer was a tumultuous time, Marcus said, and she wanted a strong voice in local government to emerge and stand up for communities who are disproportionately impacted by policing and natural disasters.
While she appreciated working with city staff on the citizens’ review board, Marcus said it felt like the majority of the group’s time was spent “trying to convince people that our opinions and our voices and our perspectives mattered.”
“The quicker and the most efficient way that we can get there, in my opinion, the better, because there's a lot of work to do,” Marcus said. “And so we can't waste time dragging our feet.”
In addition to racial justice, she sees the community’s continued recovery from the derecho, 2008 flood and COVID-19 as opportunities to rebuild stronger. She said enhancing connections with nonprofits could help serve individuals most affected by disasters.
Marcus said she wants to see more “excited support” from the council around issues of climate adaptation or resiliency-building and social justice issues.
“I believe that once the council is presented with those ideas that they would be more receptive to the conversation, but I don't see those ideas being presented at the onset,” Marcus said. “… I want our council to have the forethought to bring those to the council immediately.”
Her intention is to keep her position with the county if elected to the part-time council seat. She envisions better collaboration between the city and county by serving both entities but said she would recuse herself on certain votes as needed.
“It is a bit different in that they’re both local government, but in practice it’s pretty common for those with conflicts of interest to not vote when it’s not appropriate to do so,” Marcus said.
Todd said he plans to seek reelection and will make a formal announcement at a later date.
“There is still much work to do and I look forward to working with all Cedar Rapidians to get it done,” Todd said.
Todd has made notable contributions, Marcus said, but “this is just the cycle of politics.”
“I want to represent the next generation,” Marcus said. “... Much like disaster recovery, this is an opportunity to build a stronger and more resilient community through uplifting the voices of this generation, and that's something that I hope that I am able to represent and support.”
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