CEDAR RAPIDS — A tumultuous third year of Mayor Brad Hart’s first term — marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest and the derecho — didn’t steer the city’s top elected official from seeking re-election.
Hart announced Tuesday he will run for a second four-year term in November, where he and the nine-member part-time City Council will grapple with helping the community recover from those disasters and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion for all residents.
“We survived quite a year together. Cedar Rapids has, once again, proven its resilience,” Hart said in a news release. “The strength and compassion I saw displayed over the last year has impressed and inspired me. It has been an honor to serve as Mayor and, with the support of the community, I want to continue to serve everyone in Cedar Rapids for another term.”
A retired business lawyer, Hart won election in 2017 in a runoff against former City Council member Monica Vernon, taking more than 54 percent of the vote after pitching himself as a community servant leader who wouldn’t carry partisan baggage into office. Vernon had previously run as a Democrat for Congress and lieutenant governor.
“There’s a record now and I think that I have certainly always tried to continue to serve as a public servant,” Hart told The Gazette.
Asked if he would seek another term beyond a second one if re-elected, Hart said he had “no idea” but did not anticipate doing so.
“When (former Mayor Ron Corbett) said eight years is enough, I suspect I’d probably say the same thing,” Hart said.
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In his first term as mayor, the release touted the city’s investment in economic development with more than $1 billion in building permits issued for new and expanding businesses in Cedar Rapids.
Other accomplishments include the more than 60 miles of city streets repaired or replaced under Paving for Progress and further investment in the permanent flood control system. Hart has helped secure $117 million in federal funding for that infrastructure, the release said.
In addition, Cedar Rapids has worked to boost its low supply of affordable housing stock. The city brought the Neighborhood Finance Corp. to Cedar Rapids and created an $8 million fund to make forgivable home loans to revitalize neighborhoods.
His priorities for another term include:
-Supporting citizens and businesses with derecho recovery
-Attracting additional investments around the city to bring high-paying jobs to support families and build the tax base
-Focusing on street repairs and reconstruction with the efficient spending of local-option sales tax revenue
-Advancing equity in the police and fire departments and promoting on new initiatives to reduce violent crime
-Continuing to build the permanent flood protection system on both sides of the river and finding additional state and/or federal funding for that system, which incorporates recreational opportunities and amenities
With his connections to the business community, Hart said he is eager to play a role specifically in helping Cedar Rapids businesses recover from the financial toll they endured from the derecho, which is a double whammy on top of the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on the economy. A sample of 111 businesses that responded to a city survey reported losses of more than $133 million from the storm, mostly because of property damage.
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Hart said, “My job as mayor is to ensure we don’t take our foot off the gas when it comes to seeing these priorities accomplished. We’ve made tremendous strides in many of these areas, but my goal as mayor is to finish the job on all these fronts.”
Four other council seats will be on the ballot in November: Tyler Olson’s at-large seat, Marty Hoeger’s District 1 seat representing northeast Cedar Rapids, Dale Todd’s District 3 seat representing an area that includes downtown and Ashley Vanorny’s District 5 seat serving those residing in the southwest quadrant.
Olson said he intends to run for re-election but he will have a formal announcement in the coming months.
Hoeger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Todd and Vanorny declined to comment on prospects for another re-election bid.
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