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The Gazette’s endorsement: Two strong candidates for Cedar Rapids District 3
Note: Staff editorials represent the consensus view of The Gazette’s editorial board. Read more about the process: Previewing The Gazette’s 2021 election endorsements
Voters in Cedar Rapids City Council District 3 must choose between two strong candidates — incumbent Council member Dale Todd and newcomer Tamara Marcus.
Todd is regional director of development for Hatch Development Group with a long record of public service and community involvement. Marcus is sustainability program manager for Linn County, a climate scientist and social justice leader.
Todd’s experience and accomplishments tilted our endorsement in his direction.
“I understand how the city works and how to make things happen,” Todd told our editorial board, calling himself a “student of city government.”
Todd has made things happen. He was among a handful of dreamers who spearheaded efforts to transform Cedar Lake, once a source of power plant cooling water and a dumping point for polluted stormwater, into a recreational destination. After years of uphill effort, the now $20 million project is on track as part of ConnectCR, which also includes a pedestrian bridge across the Cedar River in the NewBo neighborhood.
Todd was the commissioner of parks and public property under the city’s previous form of government, the first Black member of the City Council. He worked to modernize the city’s municipal parks system, which is the state’s largest. His drive to promote and improve outdoor recreation in Cedar Rapids remains strong.
During his latest tenure on the council, Todd has worked on improving District 3’s core neighborhoods, addressing the need for economic opportunity and problems including gun violence. The need for affordable housing is among the city’s top issues, and Todd’s role as a developer who has helped bring affordable and market-rate housing to the city gives him keen insights.
We were less enamored with Todd’s answers to our questions about improving city-county relations, which have deteriorated. Todd seemed dismissive of the notion the city and county could cooperate on initiatives such as flood protection.
“I would be open to anything. If you want to bring Dr. Phil in, I’m fine,” Todd told us.
Marcus’ passion for addressing climate change and its consequences was impressive. She’s also a leader of Advocates for Social Justice, which led protests that helped convince the city to create a Citizen Review Board to monitor the police department and address potential misconduct.
Had Marcus taken on another opponent, she likely would have received our endorsement. But with the prospects for a new mayor being elected Nov. 2, we see Todd’s experience as invaluable.
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