Government

4 running for Coralville City Council

Special election is Sept. 29

CORALVILLE — Four people are running for a seat on the Coralville City Council, a vacancy voters will fill in a special election Sept. 29.

The winner will replace council member Tim Gill, who resigned in July after referring to Black Lives Matter protesters as “criminals” and making other remarks that drew condemnation from his fellow council members and Coralville Mayor John Lundell.

Whoever wins the special election will take office Sept. 30 and complete Gill’s term, which run through Dec. 31, 2021.

The four candidates for the seat are:

Hai Huynh

Huynh, 42, is the community projects coordinator for the Coralville Community Food Pantry and a 20-year resident of Coralville, she said in a statement.

In addition, Huynh has served as a paraeducator at Coralville Central Elementary School and has been an active community volunteer, she said.

“In these roles, I have seen firsthand both Coralville’s strengths and shortcomings,” she said.

Huynh said her goals include prioritizing development that “puts everyday people first,” improving community mobility, addressing racial and economic justice and battling climate change through a community plan of action.

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Nick Burrell

Burrell, 28, is a seven-year resident of Coralville and co-owner of Versa Fitness, which opened in 2017. He credits his interest in fitness, health and wellness in fostering relationships with Coralville residents.

“I think my passion for that has allowed me to create a lot of really good relationships with people in the community,” he said. “Having an impact on people’s lives has probably been the most rewarding part of it.

Burrell was recently appointed to the Iowa City Area Sport Commission Board, which helps pick the events for area sports venues.

As a biracial man, Burrell said he also hopes to bring a different perspective to the city council.

“My main goal with the city council is to step up to the plate and bring a voice to people who haven’t been heard or grouped with people they don’t agree with,” Burrell said.

Burrell said he’d like to see a Citizens Police Review Board with “legitimate power and legitimate oversight” created in Coralville.

He also wants to work with the Black Voices Project on creating more educational programs and help bridge the gap between the community and police department.

Barry Bedford

Bedford, 69, a 47-year resident of the community, served with the Coralville Police Department for 43 years, including 28 years as its chief.

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Since his retirement in 2017, Bedford has earned his certification as an executive life coach and leadership consultant and trainer. He has spent the past three years volunteering with those living in southeast Iowa City who are homeless, low-income and food insecure.

“I have developed personal strengths that I can bring to the Coralville council, including dedication and commitment, problem-solving, conflict management and resolution, effective communications, mediation, listening, visioning and high personal integrity,” Bedford said in a statement.

Bedford identifies the fiscal condition of Coralville as the community’s biggest challenge.

“With $340 million of city debt, the shutdown of our local economy and business community from COVID-19, coupled with a recent derecho, the city budget and city’s financial resources have been hard hit,” he said. “The lack of anticipated funding through hotel-motel taxes and events canceled at the convention center and the new arena have further exacerbated the fiscal issue.”

Bedford said he is committed to developing a “strong fiscal stabilization and recovery plan” in Coralville. Once that is on its way, Bedford said the city can look to other projects that will benefit the community.

Heather Seitsinger

According to the Johnson County Auditor’s Office, Heather Seitsinger also is running for Coralville City Council. Seitsinger could not be reached for comment.

Absentee ballots for the special election must be requested by Sept. 18. Polls will be open Sept. 29 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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