Name: Tim Pridegon
Address: 816 14th St. SE
Seat seeking: Mayor
Educational background: Ministerial ordination July 1986
Why are you running for council?
Pridegon: Inspired to do so and I love the city of Cedar Rapids.
What are the three largest issues facing the city? How will you address them?
Pridegon: 1. Flood protection: Continue to seek funding for permanent protection
2. Rockwell Collins future-I will talk with the executives to find exactly what their intentions are. I will present our city’s longtime relationship with them. I will promote the great work ethic of the people of Cedar Rapids & Iowans. I will make a concentrated effort to reach out to local & surrounding communities & colleges to point out what a great place Cedar Rapids is to live, work, & play. This will insure an even greater employee prospect pool.
3. Gun Control-present a more thorough background check process
The city is facing some major revenue losses. The Iowa Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold a lower court decision to turn off traffic cameras on I-380, which have generated more than $3 million per year for the city. Now, the state is threatening to do away with the backfill, which in Cedar Rapids is worth about $4 million per year. What is your plan to balance the budget if those losses come to fruition?
Pridegon: I am in favor of doing away with the traffic cameras on I-380 because I just don’t feel like it’s always fair to the driver.
My plan to is to create a budget task force to discuss & explore all means of balancing the budget.
Some big fish have expressed interest in opening shop in Iowa, including Amazon and Toyota and Apple recently announced plans to build in Waukee. What specifically would you do to put Cedar Rapids in the best position to land a major new company?
Pridegon: I would promote our great educational system, our dedicated workforce, and make sure they are aware that Cedar Rapids, Iowa is a place with room to grow.
There’s very real possibility one of the area’s largest employers, Rockwell Collins, could see its HQ leave Cedar Rapids. This would lead to a negative impact on jobs and philanthropy to local nonprofits. What would you do as an elected official to prevent this from happening or to minimize the impact?
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Pridegon: As I stated earlier, I will talk with the executives to find exactly what their intentions are. I will present our city’s longtime relationship with them. I will promote the great work ethic of the people of Cedar Rapids & Iowans. I will make a concentrated effort to reach out to local & surrounding communities & colleges to point out what a great place Cedar Rapids is to live, work, & play. This will provide an even greater employee prospect pool.
One of residents top complaints in road conditions. Now we are a few years into a 10 year, 1 cent local-option sales tax targeting street repairs. It’s called Paving for Progress, and we’ve started to see streets improved, such as 42nd Street. What is your assessment of Paving for Progress? Is it working or isn’t it? And, do you favor extending the LOST tax to continue the program?
Pridegon: It most certainly is working. However, I think more emphasis needs to be put on what improvements have already been done, so that people are reminded that progress is happening. Yes, I would be in favor of continuing the program but revisiting the timeline & the progress that has been made.
Another frequent complaint from residents is the city’s efforts to become more walkable and bikeable, notably building sidewalks in established neighborhoods and road work downtown which has included converting one way streets to two way streets, removing stop lights in favor of stop signs and adding bike lanes. Do you support these efforts and why? And would you do anything specifically to speed up or halt these initiatives?
Pridegon: I think all of the efforts are a step in the right direction. It makes the city more quickly assessable for all travelers and keeps traffic flowing easier.
Cedar Rapids is some $200 million short of the money needed to build a flood protection system. Elected officials and city staff have tried a variety of methods to shake loose federal money for flood protection. They’ve lobbied local congressmen and senators, lobbied in Washington, D.C., worked with the Army Corps, and pushed unsuccessfully for a local sales tax increase for flood protection. What would you do differently to get federal aid for flood protection? What if any back up plan do you have to fill the funding gap?
Pridegon: Our city seems to have done all that is humanly possible. I believe it is time to pray. Prayers moves the hand of God. We’ve tried everything we know, why not ask God?
Last year and earlier this year, the City Council faced a difficult decision when Commonbond Communities wanted to build an affordable/homeless housing complex called Crestwood Ridge Apartments in a northwest neighborhood that vehemently opposed the project. While several neighbors pointed to concerns about traffic and stormwater runoff, others said that type of project would bring down property values and could introduce questionable people into the neighborhood. City Council members were torn about whether to side with the electorate or endorse a project many acknowledged was needed in the community. How would you have voted and why?
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Pridegon: I would have asked this organization to consider the option of creating a work program that individuals can earn their housing & continue to move them out on their own to become regular contributing members of our community.
Cedar Rapids has leaned heavily in recent years on Tax Increment Financing to incentivize development with programs for downtown development, job creation, restoring brownfields and grayfields, historic restoration, sustainable improvement, community benefit, and urban housing. Virtually every high profile development has included some form of public subsidy. As one example, the city is proposing a $20.5 million public subsidy for a 28 story, $103 million downtown high rise with a grocery store and hotel called One Park Place. Is this the right approach? Is it too generous? Please explain.
Pridegon: I do feel we to have to offer some type of incentives to continue to attract young people, families, & people that are looking for a community to become a part of. This project will offer something new & exciting that others may want to duplicate & invest in.
Following a series of shootings involving teens, a joint task force of city, school, police and community leaders joined forced to develop a plan called Safe Equitable and Thriving Communities. City staff and council have said they will work to implement the plan although some have questioned the level of commitment and progress and whether the city should bring in outside help. What do you think of the city’s progress on the SET program and what approaches would you advocate to address youth and gun violence?
Pridegon: I believe our community has enough resources & strength to tackle this without outside help. Outside help is not always as invested in our communities as we who live here. I believe if we pull together & communicate with private citizens the importance of everyone being a part of the solution we can have safer neighborhoods.
Are there any other issues you believe are critical for voters to know?
Pridegon: Our efforts in this community are to be commended. However, I believe we will have even greater success when we acknowledge God as the Head of our efforts.