Ashley Vanorny unseats incumbent Justin Shields in runoff Cedar Rapids City Council race

She attributes District 5 victory to grass-roots style

Ashley Vanorny
Ashley Vanorny

CEDAR RAPIDS — Newcomer Ashley Vanorny ousted three-term incumbent Justin Shields in Tuesday’s runoff election for the Cedar Rapids City Council District 5 seat.

Vanorny, 32, captured more than 59 percent of the vote, compared with the roughly 38 percent that Shields, 75, received, according to unofficial results from the Linn County Auditor’s Office.

Vanorny, an information technology analyst, led in each of the southern district’s precincts and among early voters.

Vanorny, who thanked Shields for his service to the city, attributed her victory to a hard-fought campaign.

“We worked really hard, I’m not surprised that we won. ... We knew that was going to be a challenge from the beginning, but we stayed vigilant about working hard and making sure we outworked the other campaign,” she said. “Cedar Rapidians are not impressed by billboards — they want you going door to door.”

For Deb Dennler, 58, who voted Tuesday at the Cedar Rapids City Services Building, 500 15th Ave. SW., Vanorny’s campaign style directly influenced her vote.

“I didn’t get anything from the other candidate,” Dennler said. “She’ll be more hands-on and active and grass roots” in office.


Vanorny said she plans to continue seeking input from residents, but did note affordable housing will remain a priority.

Shields issued a statement after the results were reported.

“I appreciate the voters in District 5 giving me 12 years representing my district. I’m proud of the work accomplished on jobs, streets, permanent flood protection and fireworks regulation. I want to congratulate my opponent on her win and stand ready to help in any way I can to keep moving Cedar Rapids and District 5 forward,” he said.

For Joe Burg, 49, who also cast a vote Tuesday at the Cedar Rapids City Services Building, Vanorny will be a needed change.

“They have their pet areas of NewBo and downtown and there’s not so much spending in the outer areas,” Burg said.

Vanorny and Shields were forced into a runoff after neither received more than 50 percent of the vote Nov. 7, which is required in Cedar Rapids elections. Vanorny will join three new council members and a new mayor on the nine-member board.

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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