2019 Voter Resource Guide

Tuesday, November 5 marks Election Day this year when residents select their local policy makers. While the Economic Alliance is a non-partisan entity and does not formally endorse or donate to political candidates, we do encourage our members to become informed and vote for business-friendly candidates when they go to the ballot.

Our Voter Resource Guide serves to assist you in your decision-making process and was designed to be a resource for you when making your voting decisions.

We recommend using this ballot tool to see who will be on your ballot. Use the below table of contents to skip to the races of your choice.

This election, voters will be asked to approve a public measure to continue supporting our public schools’ ability to spend funds they receive through the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) penny sales tax. The Economic Alliance Policy Board endorses the public measure and encourages all members to vote YES on their ballots. For more information on the Economic Alliance’s support of the public measure, click here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: A recent change in Iowa law requires voters to show an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator ID, U.S. passport, U.S. military ID or veteran’s ID, tribal ID/document or Iowa voter ID card at the polls before they vote. Voters without the necessary ID will be offered a provisional ballot and can provide ID up until the time of the county canvass of votes.

We hope you find this Voter Resource Guide useful in helping you make your voting decisions. Contact Public Policy Strategist, Barbra Solberg at bsolberg@cedarrapids.org with any questions or concerns.

This message is paid for by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401. The executive director of the Economic Alliance is Doug Neumann. This message is not authorized by any candidate, candidate’s committee or ballot issue committee.

Economic Alliance contact information:
319.398.5317
EconomicAlliance@cedarrapids.org

 
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Barbra Solberg,
Public Policy Strategist

Races & Candidates

* = Denotes Incumbent

Cedar Rapids Council Member At Large
(vote for 2)
Patrick Loeffler
Ann Poe *
Jorel Robinson

Cedar Rapids Council Member District 2
Sofia Mehaffey
Scott Overland *

Cedar Rapids Council Member District 4
Scott E. Olson *

Hiawatha Mayor
William (Bill) Bennett Jr. *

Hiawatha Council Member At Large (vote for 3)
Jerry Mohwinkle
Dick Olson *
Aime J. Wichtendahl *

Marion Mayor
Nicolas AbouAssaly *
Mary Lou Pazour

Marion Council Member At Large
Paul Draper*
Grant G. Harper

Marion Council Member Ward 1
Colette R. Atkins *
Dwight Hogan

Marion Council Member Ward 3
Will Brandt
Mikeal Tope

Cedar Rapids Council Member At Large

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Patrick Loeffler

Age: 53 Occupation: Business Agent for Carpenters Local 308 NCSRCC, President of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Building Trades Council, Owner of Corner Store Apothecary & More

Why should the business community vote for you?
I feel the business community should vote for me for numerous reasons. I first believe in Buy Local, Build Local. Having a small business, my wife and I depend on this community for support and survival. As a Business Agent for the Carpenters Union currently, I represent everyone from Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Their issues are my issues. I have a skill set to bring people to the table to communicate and get the job completed. Having grandchildren in the Cedar Rapids school system is another personal issue. I want every child to have that quality education for a head start. Our futures depend on them. Public safety is huge for me. Relationships I have formed in the past will be a easy transition to working with the Public Services when possible. Bottom line for me is making sure Cedar Rapids continues to move in the right direction. Thank you for this opportunity and I hope to earn your votes.

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Ann Poe *

Age: 67 Occupation: Not currently working

Why should the business community vote for you?
Economic Development projects are hard, it is a delicate balance of loans and grants. Since the flood of 2008, we have amazingly reported 3.3 BILLION in valued building permits, $700 Million alone in the last two years. It has been a real COMMUNITY effort by developers, business owners, local foundations, City’s Development Team, Council and Economic Development Organizations Like the Economic Alliance, Small Business Development Center, Entrepreneurial Development Center, NewBo Co, to name a few. The City’s Economic Development Department has a five year Strategic Plan I support that formalizes the coordination between the City and partner organizations with 5 Goals and outlined objectives for each:

  • Enhanced Economic Growth
  • Enhanced Quality of life
  • Workforce Development
  • Business Support Services
  • Communications and Marketing
I support local organizations that fill the employment gap for job training and re-training programs necessary for securing jobs that currently exist.
  • Programs like the EA’s Talent Hub that recruits out of community individuals and connects them with local businesses to bring them back to CR for employment.
  • I support State Legislation that will eliminate the “cliff effect” in the child care system that allows families to move up the employment ladder and get a raise without losing their child care support.
  • I supported and will continue to support the City’s financial commitment to the NTS Program and Horizons for getting people who do not have transportation to and from work during those hours when our buses are not running
  • I support local unions Apprentice Training Programs
  • I support a Child care center for the employees who work in the Med Quarter.

As Chair of the Council's Development Committee for the last six years, I understand Economic Development projects work for the long-term and take pressure off property taxes. I have the experience and knowledge from the years on Council for the job and ask for your vote on November 5th.

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Jorel Robinson

Age: 32 Occupation: Productivity Specialist, GoDaddy

Why should the business community vote for you?
I believe in leveling the playing field for our small businesses and getting Corporate America to pay their fair share of taxes. I am a candidate who supports policies that have environmental and social sustainability in mind. Worker training should be focused as to how we can help our citizens be trained and prepared to meet the needs of our workforce. If the jobs are available or could be, we should have a workforce trained and ready to meet the demand. I fully support a living wage; this can increase the quality of our workforce and lower turnover. I know that work matters, but quality of life is also critical. Businesses are looking at several different reasons to open; costs, culture, values, demographics, aesthetics and opportunities all play a part. Its up to us to focus on the things we can impact and do to develop those areas. As of 2017 the average age of a Cedar Rapidan is 36 years old. I feel I can reach out in our community and build on the culture here and turn this into something special. As the 2nd largest city in Iowa there are many ways we can be leading in our state, from renewable energy to technology. I feel it is time we develop and invest in our youth to help ensure a strong workforce today and a future for tomorrow.

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Cedar Rapids Council Member District 2

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Sofia Mehaffey

Age: 35 Occupation: Community Health and Nutrition Director, Horizons, A Family Service Alliance

Why should the business community vote for you?
For the business community to thrive, we need a Cedar Rapids that works for all residents. As a hub for industry and entrepreneurship, our ability to attract and keep an energetic workforce is a top priority. To this end, accessible and affordable housing, vibrant neighborhoods, entertainment and dining, and opportunities for community engagement are key to our ability to compete with other communities for talent. Additionally, fostering the development and retention of homegrown talent is going to require us to address the educational achievement gap, address barriers to employment and entrepreneurship, and support initiatives that help young professionals develop roots in Cedar Rapids. I came to Cedar Rapids in search of opportunity - and was rewarded beyond what I dreamed was possible. Our biggest untapped resource is individuals in this community who have the potential to contribute innovations and skills, but due to circumstance are unable to do so. We need to not only support small business and foster economic development, but in doing so, ensure that we are creating good paying jobs. When working people have more money in their pocket, they spend it - and they spend it locally. That is a significant boost to the local economy.

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Scott Overland *

Age: 56 Occupation: Vice President Investments, Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust

Why should the business community vote for you?
I would ask for the support of the business community because of my record of accomplishment in my first term. Specifically I have supported citywide new development and local business expansion through local incentives and other city cooperation. But as important is my effort to create the Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC) which helps our older core neighborhoods remain attractive for new homebuyers and existing residents through a forgivable loan program for home improvements. NFC incentivizes new homebuyers to locate in the city core which is a key component to helping retain our workforce. A workforce needs to be able to have an affordable place to live and NFC is a proven tool to drive investment to older neighborhoods.

In addition, the implementation of a plan to pay for the city share of flood protection was enacted so that flood protection will become a reality on both sides of the river as quickly as possible. This will provide certainty for property owners, industry and new development as sections are completed.

Lastly, continued investment in Cedar Rapids streets and other infrastructure needs to continue with planning for the extension of the one cent sales tax. It is critical that Paving for Progress continue for another 10 years.

I will continue to push for neighborhood improvements, flood protection and street work in another term.

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Cedar Rapids Council Member District 4

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Scott E. Olson * (no opponent)

Age: 73 Occupation: Commercial Real Estate Broker, Skogman Realty
Why should the business community vote for you?

I have been privileged to have served as a representative of District 4 for 7 ½ years as well this great city of Cedar Rapids. My service has included membership on the Development and Finance Committees, chair of the Infrastructure Committee and a part of many other city initiatives. The northwest and portions of the southwest quadrant I represent is experiencing a renaissance with the opening of Highway 100 and new developments planned for Time Check to Cedar Hills and into Stoney Point. I feel my background as a senior citizen, military veteran and knowledge of real estate development has and will continue to be an asset to the city council. Besides representing citizens in District 4, I plan to focus on the important issues of safe neighborhoods, better streets, affordable housing, homeless housing, a senior center and expanding recreational/retail/quality of life projects for all residents of the city.

My experience as an architect, commercial real estate broker and a member of numerous development groups for over 45 years gives me a unique background and verifies my solid support of the business community. I have been a part of creating 6 businesses and 4 non-profits. Over my professional years as an architect and then a real estate broker, I have assisted hundreds of businesses get their start, expand or join the Cedar Rapids metro area. This experience has allowed me to provide valuable insight to the city council as they work to make the Cedar Rapids area a great place to do business.

The future is bright for Cedar Rapids as a great place to call home but we still have work to do. Let’s do it together.

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Hiawatha Mayor

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William (Bill) Bennett Jr. * (no opponent)

Age: 57 Occupation: Owner/Operator, A-1 Storage and 5 Seasons Motorsports

Why should the business community vote for you?
Bill has lived in Hiawatha for 45 years. He also owns and operates a second-generation small business that has been operating in Hiawatha for 45 years. His pledge is to lead city government to be more financially efficient, encourage the continued growth of Hiawatha, while protecting personal property rights and encourage citizen involvement in city government.

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Hiawatha Council Member At Large

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Jerry Mohwinkle

Age: 67 Occupation: President, Rapids Reproductions

Why should the business community vote for you?
I have been a resident of Hiawatha for 44 years; where I have been active in the Hiawatha and Cedar Rapids communities. My early years I volunteered with Foundation II, as well as the Hiawatha Kids League as a coach, a Board Member and as League Commissioner. I have served as VP to the Kennedy High School Booster Club.

More recently I am a member of the Cedar Rapids Sunrise Rotary and serve as a Board Member. I am actively involved in raising funds for Make-A-Wish Iowa and also volunteer at Matthew 25. As well, I volunteer with Miracles in Motion, where I also serve on the Board. I am a member of the Steering Committee for the Hiawatha Library expansion, as well as a member of the Hiawatha Library Board.

“I am a registered Independent voter and have never voted a straight ticket at the ballot box. I seek decision making for the greater good. I wish to continue the advancement of the City of Hiawatha for all residents.”

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Photo of Dick Olson

Dick Olson *

Age: 73 Occupation: President, Personal Safety Corporation

Why should the business community vote for you?
As a business owner for over 28 years, I am acutely aware of the challenging headwinds confronted by all businesses, particularly in today’s economic climate. I have utilized my long-term business experience & perspective throughout my 16 year Hiawatha City Council tenure to assist in the development of the Hiawatha business community. I was a co-founder of the Hiawatha Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO) and a board member for 10 years. HEDCO was formed for the purpose of promoting the creation of new businesses as well as assisting in the growth of current businesses in Hiawatha.

As a City Councilman, I have been involved in countless Economic Development meetings with developers & business owners over the past 16 years to support & assist their development plans with meaningful Tax Increment Financing Programs. In many cases these Hiawatha business plans for development or expansion would not have become a reality without the formation of Hiawatha Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

For a business to locate & grow in Hiawatha they must have the assurance the city maintains public safety as its #1 priority to protect personnel & property. To insure the highest level of police protection, I initiated the Police Department’s first Five Year Plan to bring the department’s personnel up to full strength. To reduce potentially life-saving EMS response times up to 40%, I lead the introduction of Hiawatha’s first ambulance service. During my next term I will advocate for the relocation of the HFD station to a more optimal location west of 380 to increase the four-minute response time effectiveness reach from 68% to 88%, a significant 33% increase. The HFD relocation is a critical public safety initiative.

To assist business and residential property owners with property tax relief, I advocated & gained Mayor & Council support for two consecutive years of $.21 property tax levy decreases. I am currently advancing the creation of a Property Tax Relief Fund with the goal of decreasing the property tax levy a minimum of $.25 annually over the next four years. A Property Tax Relief Fund will be yet another reason for businesses to locate and grow in Hiawatha.

I am running for a 5th four year City Council term because I believe the best is yet to come for Hiawatha’s current & future stakeholders. I have been a strong advocate for the development of a vibrant Village Center for nearly 20 years to provide the opportunity for developers to invest in the creation of much needed new housing options, dining & entertainment businesses. I look forward to the next four years partnering with the Mayor, Council Members & City staff to make Hiawatha the Creative Corridor’s most welcoming community to live, work, locate & grow a business & enjoy.

My election promise: “To Listen, Learn & Lead the continuation of fiscally responsible Hiawatha smart growth & public safety initiatives to benefit all Hiawatha stakeholders.”

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Aime J. Wichtendahl *

Age: 39 Occupation: Customer Service, U.S. Cellular

Why should the business community vote for you?
When I ran in 2015 my slogan was 'Stand with Local Businesses'. Over the past four years, the City of Hiawatha has made great strides in expanding our business base and supporting our community. Whether it would be from new developments like Peck's Landing, or providing Tax Incremental Financing to help businesses expand, to showing our support with ribbon cuttings and local success stories. Hiawatha believes in its businesses and they are vital to the growth and development of our community.

For my next term, I want to 'Build on our Success' by making Hiawatha a destination. I strongly support the Village Center project and believe it's completion will provide new shops, restaurants, and pubs that are needed in our community. I want to make Hiawatha a home. Finding a home increasingly becomes a struggle for many young professionals, our essential housing project will help these people find a home and put down roots. And finally, the completion of the Tower Terrace Interchange will unlock dynamic new development opportunities for business and residential alike.

Lastly, I believe in sustainability. Not only putting the city on a firm financial footing, by lowering the tax rate from $15.41 to $14.99 and reducing our overall debt capacity. I've also pushed for increased ecological sustainability by increasing our energy efficiency to reduce energy waste and providing more green space and greater access to trails and bike lanes.

The future of Hiawatha is bright and with your support, we will succeed.

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Marion Mayor

Photo of Nicolas AbouAssaly

Nicolas AbouAssaly *

Age: 53 Occupation: Attorney, Member of Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman PLC

Why should the business community vote for you?
My only agenda is to see Marion and our entire region thrive and provide great opportunities for businesses to succeed and people to achieve their goals in business and in life. During the past four years I have been a relentless promoter of and advocate for progress. As mayor, I have worked tirelessly to increase opportunities for business, and have promoted many quality of life initiatives. By helping Marion achieve its fullest potential as a great place to raise a family and grow a business, I am ensuring that the city is doing its part in making our region attractive for businesses and the workforce we need to support a growing and thriving economy. Marion has experienced tremendous growth in the past four years and we’ve only just begun. I am seeking re-election to keep Marion on a path of growth and positive momentum. The sky is NOT the limit.

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Mary Lou Pazour

Age: N/A Occupation: N/A

Why should the business community vote for you?
No response provided.

Marion Council Member At Large

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Paul Draper *

Age: N/A Occupation: N/A
Why should the business community vote for you?

No response provided.

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Grant G. Harper

Age: 65 Occupation: Retired since 2017. Most recent position was at Pearson Education

Why should the business community vote for you?
I will support the deliberations of the Marion City Council with substantial experience in complex project management, data and information security, business continuity, quality management, and regulatory compliance. With this foundation, I will assess local development opportunities in terms of project planning, project risk assessment, execution, and cost-control. I’ll promote a necessary synergy between residential, business, cultural, and recreational development, which results in continued growth and vibrancy for Marion. However, the preceding must be in balance with the maintenance of existing infrastructure and essential services.

So why support me for the Marion City Council?

Businesses best operate in an environment of certainty and predictability. That is, having confidence that what Marion is doing right now will complete on/about a defined date promotes certainty.

When businesses have a reasonable expectation, based upon past performance that Marion will complete approved strategic plans as stated, that establishes predictability as an input to long-range business planning. The net result is an environment that is optimal for business development for the broader Marion community. Enhancing certainty and predictability are at the focus of my considerations, doing so in a collaborative, cooperative manner.

I have much to learn about Marion's community and business development endeavors currently underway, or contemplated within the next 5-10 years. However, I shall devote the effort required to develop an understanding of that planning so that I may make thoughtful inquiries and informed decisions as the Marion City Council completes its work on behalf of the community.

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Marion Council Member Ward 1

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Colette R. Atkins *

Age: 46 Occupation: Dean of Business and Information Technology, Kirkwood Community College

Why should the business community vote for you?
In my time on the Marion City Council, I have upheld the standard of governmental transparency that my City Council colleagues – and the residents of Marion – expect and value. Witnessing firsthand the internal processes of government and the decisions that follow has encouraged me to redouble my efforts to engage Ward 1 residents, and all Marion residents, in our collective decision-making.

I am passionate about several issues impacting our growing Marion community, chief among them economic prosperity, especially for small businesses. Economic prosperity is a key indicator of the success of our community. As the Council member representing Marion’s downtown, I recognize the importance of maintaining a vital, lively downtown that is representative of many different types of businesses. Marion is welcoming to small businesses, and we must continue to find avenues of support to ensure that these small businesses thrive and that other businesses seek to locate in our community.

I am adamant about our need to improve and safeguard the infrastructure in Ward 1. As our community expands northward, we must also ensure that the infrastructure in our original Marion neighborhoods, including our downtown, is maintained and supported.

Access to community hubs is an important issue, particularly as we seek to grow together. I look forward to continuing to create community hubs in Marion, like the development of a new library, where all residents feel welcome and can gather for an exchange of fellowship and ideas.

I ask for the consideration of your vote on November 5, 2019.

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Dwight Hogan

Age: N/A Occupation: N/A

Why should the business community vote for you?
No reponse provided.


Marion Council Member Ward 3

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Will Brandt *

Age: 44 Occupation: Realtor, Skogman Realty

Why should the business community vote for you?
As Marion continues to grow we need to be proactive when it comes to managing that growth. I think we have done a good job with promoting new commercial and industrial growth. With the Central Corridor, Squaw Creek Crossing and Tower Terrace areas offering more commercial space and the Marion Enterprise Center along with the 3rd Ave/44th St area offering more industrial space. Continuing to support those areas and others in the future is important to the continued. I am a supporter of using TIF, when needed, to help attract new business to our community.

One of the major issues I have been hearing is the lack of employees. What can the city do to help attract employees? Continue to add much need amenities. For example, we have a fantastic trail system in Marion already, but we can and are expanding that. Our parks are top notch but I see the need to expand on what we have by adding more green space to our new residential developments. A vibrant Uptown District is key to attracting younger and older workers to Marion. With the addition of the Uptown Artway (and continued expansion) the future Uptown Plaza and a new Library we are continuing to draw more people to the area.

I ask for you vote on Nov. 5th. I promise to you that I will continue to support our businesses in Marion, not only as a member of the City Council, but I will also with my wallet.

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Mikeal Tope

Age: N/A Occupation: N/A

Why should the business community vote for you?
No response provided.

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