MARION — Marion residents will have the opportunity to question City Council and mayoral candidates at a candidate forum Tuesday and Wednesday night at Linn-Mar High School.
Marion City Council candidates from three of the four competitive races will address voters in the auditorium, 3111 N. 10th St. The forum will be hosted by the League of Women Voters of Linn County.
Attendees can submit questions to candidates at the door, to be read by a moderator.
The forum for Ward 3 will be from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, and a forum for at-large candidates will be from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, the mayoral candidate forum will be at 6 p.m. The Ward 1 forum was canceled because incumbent Colette Atkins will be out of town.
Incumbent Nicolas AbouAssaly was appointed to the Marion City Council in June 2013 to fill a six-month vacancy in Ward 4. He was re-elected to Ward 4 before being elected mayor in November 2015.
AbouAssaly, 53, said in an email he believes “Marion has tremendous potential as a great place to live, raise a family and do business.”
“Over the past four years, we’ve made great progress ... Our city organization is now more strategic in planning and spending and has become more responsive to the needs of residents. The proper leadership is needed to continue the positive momentum and help the city achieve its fullest potential,” he said.
Mary Lou Pazour, who declined to provide her age, served as Ward 3 council member in the 1970s and spent 20 years working for the Linn County Sheriff’s Office. She was a deputy sheriff from 1979 to 1997 and now is retired.
Pazour is running to “renew respect and credibility” to the council, she said.
“They don’t seem to be listening to what voters want,” Pazour said. “I believe the voters would like to see Marion get out of the debt they’re in right now.”
Paul Draper, 85, is the oldest City Council member Marion has ever had, he said, and was named Citizen of the Year in 2018.
“There’s so many exciting things going on in our community. I want to be part of that,” Draper said. “It’s unbelievable what’s happening in Marion with our new hotels and restaurants. Everything going on is just something amazing.”
Grant Harper, 65, a longtime Marion resident, is seeking ways to become more involved in the community after retiring from Pearson Education in Iowa City.
“I decided I wanted to be of service to the city and community I’ve been a member of for so long,” Harper said, adding he has a strong background in project management. “I’m excited. It’s a little scary. I’m looking forward to the process, and hopefully being successful.”
Incumbent Will Brandt, 44, was first elected to City Council in 2015 and said he wants to continue to see the city grow in a “positive direction.”
He added he would like to see Marion to continue updating infrastructure, become a zero-waste community, expand its commercial and industrial tax base and continue to grow.
Mikeal Tope, 61, is a retired resident who worked as a correctional officer for the Department of Corrections for 32 years.
Tope would like to see a lower cost of living for Marion residents.
“It almost seems like the city is fining me to live in the community I grew up in and was raised in,” Tope said. He said his work as a correctional officer came with a “fiscal responsibility” to taxpayers.
No photo of Tope was available.
The forum Tuesday coincides with National Voter Registration Day, intended to encourage voter participation and increased awareness ahead of elections in November. City elections and school board polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 5.
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Go to linncountyelections.org/lookup to find poll locations.
Preregistration for voting ends at 5 p.m. Oct. 25. All absentee ballot requests must be received by Linn County Election Services by Oct. 25.
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