Name: Angela Winnike
Address: 629 S. Riverside Dr., Iowa City
Seat seeking: At Large
Occupation: Nighttime mayor; Chief of Retail Operations, The Java House
Educational background: B.A. Political Science
Why are you running for council?
Winnike: I want to serve the community I love. I grew up in Iowa City and want to give back to the community that raised me and made me the person I am today. I believe I represent a large population of young, non-traditional (single, no children) professionals in the Iowa City community and we need a voice.
What are the three largest issues facing the city? How will you address them?
Winnike: A lack of affordable, workforce housing; affordable housing for students and just housing in general. I believe if we allow for the development of taller buildings, redevelopment of existing properties in redeveloping neighborhoods for multifamily units we can easily solve the issue of cost to own a home, as well as created density in our near-city center neighborhoods.
A lack of communication and collaboration between large governing bodies in our community, i.e. University of Iowa and the City of Iowa City. I think if the City and University pooled their efforts to solve the transportation accessibility issues in our community we could cut costs, save on route & service expansions and generate a higher revenue from increased usage.
Accessibility to our local leaders and city government. I believe that we are very behind in creating and using electronic platforms for form submissions, inquiries to city staff & council and access to our information base. There are a lot of people in our community who want to get involved and just do not know how.
With developments taking place on the city’s Riverfront Crossings Park and district, additional projects are expected to follow in rapid succession. How do you feel about what has taken place so far and do you want to see anything change or done differently?
Winnike: I truly believe the development of Riverfront Crossings will be the change Iowa City needs to keep more of its young, professional workforce here. I look forward to seeing what we can do to redevelop other neighborhoods and find better uses for underutilized spaces in Iowa City.
Downtown and the Pedestrian Mall updates continue to expand in Iowa City. However, some have criticized the city for putting too much focus into the downtown area, while ignoring other outlying neighborhoods. How much attention should be placed on downtown and is enough attention being paid to neighborhoods?
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Winnike: The way I see Iowa City is much like that of the human body. The Councilmembers are like the brain, making the decisions, learning about the community’s needs, hearing the opinions of the people and making sure that all other parts of “the body” function properly with good direction. Downtown is the heart of our community; not just the Iowa City community but the entire corridor community. A thriving Downtown means continued growth of retail, mixed-income residential space with upward growth in the dense city center and maintaining its vibrant night life. When the heart is healthy, it is pumping the wealth of resources to the extremities of the body, or in our case, the community. In order to keep Downtown the job center of the region, we must keep it vibrant to continue to attract unique employers as well as continue to develop local business from within the Iowa City and University community. One of the greatest traits of Downtown Iowa City are the sheer number of locally grown and owned businesses. We need to foster the growth and development of more local businesses in the heart of our community with City-driven incentives. We know from experience, our locally owned businesses, give back to our community consistently and support many of the (arts) programs, which attract people to Iowa City.
In the 2015 city election, development was the topic of discussion, with voters in that year ousting most incumbents and bringing in then-newcomers with a more conservative approach to large-scale development and tax increment finance incentives. How do you feel about the last two years of council development? Are you happy with the new direction, does it feel the same, or are there things you’d want to see change?
Winnike: I disagree with many of the decisions Council has made in the past two years. I do not believe our current council represents our entire community well. We must continue to support upward development with TIF incentives. In order for us to best use the space we have and to create the dense urban center we need to grow the tax base enough to support all of our social & arts programs, we must allow for developments taller than 7-10 stories.
Iowa City — and cities across Iowa — could face revenue losses as the state revenues remain tight. The state is threatening to do away with the backfill funds it provides to communities in an effort to balance its budget. How would you balance the city’s budget if the city were to lose funds? What funding priorities do you have?
Winnike: I believe we need to continue the current efforts to save and build our reserves. If we were to lose funds, we would need to look at ways to generate revenue, cut costs in staffing by streamlining positions and having to make tough decisions on funding priorities. I believe because of the housing crisis we should continue to incentive the development of affordable housing units in new developments. We must also continue to fund and support our public arts programs.
Affordable housing has been an ongoing issue in Iowa City. How serious do you feel this issue is? What efforts do you believe are successful and are there additional ideas that could be tried?
Winnike: I believe the lack of affordable housing in Iowa City is a serious issue. I believe the city must continue to incentivize inclusive development, encourage the development of larger structures and to make sure that in outlying neighborhoods, we are seeing developments of unique, multifamily developments. They increase the amount of housing available, lower the cost of building and lower the cost of purchase for the middle class.
What other big issues would you like to see the council address in the next few years?
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Winnike: I believe that we must continue to support the growth and development in Iowa City. We must incentive softgoods retail downtown, create place-making events in our community to create a sense of “home” & “place” to keep our young, professional workforce here and to continue to incentivize the development and growth of local businesses.