CEDAR RAPIDS — Part-time mayor. Full-time grandfather.
Those will be Mayor Brad Hart’s occupations in the New Year after he retires this week as a business lawyer from the Cedar Rapids law firm Bradley & Riley, where he’s practiced since 1990.
Hart’s law career spans nearly 40 years, with his first years spent practicing in Houston.
“It’s been rewarding, but it’s a hard job, and so I’ve always been planning to do this for a while now,” said Hart, 65.
Hart said he expects to make a decision and announcement in January about whether he’ll seek a second term as mayor in the 2021 municipal election.
Meanwhile, he said he expects his recusals from council votes — when he excuses himself from voting because his law firm represents a client doing business with the city — will drop “dramatically” because of his retirement.
The Gazette previously reported that most of Hart’s recusals have been for items on the city council’s consent agenda — non-controversial, routine items approved as a slate by a simple majority vote of the nine-member council.
Most of the recusals involved Rathje Construction, a regular contractor for city street construction projects.
Some of the non-consent items Hart has recused himself from include a 2019 vote related to reinstating automated traffic cameras and a June vote advancing the roughly $100 million First and First West proposal for a brewery, movie theaters and family fun center on First Street and First Avenue West.
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Hart, who was elected mayor in 2017, said he is exploring how he’d like to invest his newfound spare time in his mayoral duties.
Among his ideas: Help the Trees Forever nonprofit raise money for the ReLeaf initiative, that will replace trees lost in the Aug. 10 derecho; spend more time in discussions with Iowa lawmakers; and ramp up involvement in local government associations.
He added he looks forward, too, to having more time to spend with his family, biking and exercising, reading and “really just (being) able to focus a little more on my being the best mayor I can be for Cedar Rapids.”
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