Government

Janice Weiner, Laura Bergus win Iowa City Council seats

New members will take seats held by outgoing Mayor Jim Throgmorton, Rockne Cole

Candidate Janice Weiner holds her granddaughter Alaska, 2, as her and fellow candidate Laura Bergus congratulate one another after winning their spots on the Iowa City council during an election results watch party at Big Grove in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Candidate Janice Weiner holds her granddaughter Alaska, 2, as her and fellow candidate Laura Bergus congratulate one another after winning their spots on the Iowa City council during an election results watch party at Big Grove in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Iowa City’s two newest council members didn’t have to go far to congratulate each other Tuesday night.

Janice Weiner and Laura Bergus — the top vote-getters in Iowa City’s City Council election for two at-large seats — had their watch parties at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. Bergus, 38, a local attorney; and Weiner, 61, a former U.S. diplomat, are both Iowa City natives.

The pair — who received similar vote totals in a low turnout election — edged out Megan Alter, a manager in test development at ACT.

Election results: Full results from Iowa City Council election and other Johnson County races

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Bergus said. “It feels so amazing to have the community say, ‘All right, yeah, give it a shot.’ I don’t know 4,000 people ... and over 4,000 people voted for me, and that’s pretty humbling.”

Weiner said she is glad to put “phase one” — the campaign — behind her and just focus on serving the people of Iowa City.

“The spotlight is no longer on the person but the job,” she said.

Weiner and Bergus replace Iowa City Mayor Jim Throgmorton and Rockne Cole, who both announced earlier this year that they would not seek reelection. One of the first orders of business for the new councilors will be to select Iowa City’s next mayor.

Weiner and Bergus said they did not yet know who they will support for mayor.

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Incumbents John Thomas and Pauline Taylor were also reelected Tuesday night. They ran uncontested in their respective districts.

More results: See results from Iowa City school board, other school races

As members of the council, Weiner and Bergus will have a hand in shaping several issues facing the city in 2020. Among them are Iowa City’s response to legislation banning cities from using or adopting rental caps, which resulted in a 10-month moratorium on issuing new rental permits; a large study of the city’s transit system; and ongoing efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the city as part of the council’s goals to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Both Bergus and Weiner said they plan to spend the next two months preparing to take their seat on the council.

Weiner said her lone disappointment Tuesday night was that so few people turned out to vote. She said one of her goals is to increase participation in local government and elections.

City Clerk Kellie Fruehling said the new council members will be sworn in sometime before Jan. 1. The new council will convene for the first time for a special formal meeting the morning of Jan. 2. During that meeting, councilors will be assigned to committees, and a new mayor will be chosen.

City councilors, who serve four-year terms, will make $11,960 in 2020. Whoever is selected mayor will earn $14,950.

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

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