Brad Hart Campaign Issues
We must have flood protection as soon as possible. We have effective plans for the state and local portion of the funds needed to construct the protection, but need the federal government to finally act on its share.
Some positive steps in that area have occurred lately thanks to Mayor Corbett, Jeff Pomeranz and others, along with our congressional delegation. Czech Village utilities relocations have begun, along with the newly erected levee there and on the Sinclair site, and a new pump station is being constructed to NewBo to pump water back into the river. But these are just the beginning of the comprehensive plan to protect our City.
I join you in worrying every time it rains. Flood protection will be one of my top priorities as mayor and I will continue to find and demand the state and federal funds needed to protect our City, our homes and our businesses from another horrific disaster.
Open For Business! Cedar Rapids will continue to be an attractive place for businesses and their employees to locate and stay. The entrepreneurial spirit developed over the last ten years should be supported as much as possible.
Our City is now viewed as being “open for business” because we have a City Council, Manager and staff with a can-do attitude. City Manager Jeff Pomeranz is a tremendous leader and has developed a top-notch team of department heads.
We need to use the financial incentives available to us, but only after careful study and with the firm belief the long term benefit will be worth the initial “investment.” A recent report indicated Cedar Rapids is using TIF’s (tax increment financing) appropriately, and I will support continuing that disciplined approach.
Strong businesses and workforce = healthy community. People will come to live and work in a community that is welcoming and has a great quality of life to offer–schools, housing, entertainment, recreation, safety.
People stay when they become connected to the community and its people. We can all help in that effort by being more friendly, more welcoming, by random acts of kindness. Volunteering will play an important role here, too.
We must be viewed as a community where everyone can live, work and play knowing they are and will be safe. I believe Cedar Rapids is such a place.
Our police department, led by Chief Wayne Jerman, has developed community policing programs like PCAT (Police Community Action Team) to build strong relationships in our neighborhoods that enlist neighbors’ help and cooperation in preventing crimes.
The soon-to-be-released report from the SET Task Force (Safe, Equitable and Thriving Communities) will, hopefully, provide some ideas and guidance on effective ways for us to address gun violence and poverty in our community, too. I look forward to that report and will plan to help take the steps identified to effectively address these important issues.
A small thing we can all do right now is to discourage crime. Many of us grew up in small town Iowa where we didn’t lock doors and left valuables in plain sight. We can all help prevent some of the small crimes, often spur-of-the-moment bad decisions by young people, by simply locking the house, garage and car doors, and keeping valuables out of sight to reduce temptations that can have a lifetime impact.
Paving for Progress is working, but the backlog is so great many haven’t seen much progress yet. As the program moves into its fourth and fifth years we should all see more progress in repairing or rebuilding streets throughout Cedar Rapids.
I hope the City can do even more to communicate that progress and the timing for future improvements so everyone understands how much is being completed. We must also remind Cedar Rapidians that our backlog of repairs is not unusual for Iowa cities, as it is faced by almost every urban area in Iowa due to aging infrastructures and inadequate funding from the state and federal government.
Paving for Progress is allowing us to do more work on our streets. It is a fair method to have a significant portion of the funds for the work come from people who do not live and pay taxes in Cedar Rapids, but who use our streets and other public facilities.
HOUSING AND POVERTY
Adequate and affordable housing is important to a healthy community. The City should continue its smart growth policies, but pursue a balanced housing strategy that assures our workforce has access to affordable housing.
We should also find ways to incent construction of single-family houses in our core neighborhoods and those near downtown. Let’s use our existing infrastructure and help grow our city from within.
The ROOTs program that provides incentives for single family new construction in core areas of our City should be continued, and that may require lobbying the IDEA for continued funding. The Total Child program through Four Oaks and the Affordable Housing Network is an example of a public/private investment in one of our important neighborhoods. By increasing the number of single family homes and reducing the number of absentee landlords, the program helps foster a safer neighborhood where people want to live and raise their family. The City played an important role in that effort.
Other important neighborhood projects to address housing and poverty will launch soon and the City will need to play a part in those efforts, too. The City cannot be, and probably shouldn’t be, the sole answer to our homeless population or to our issues of poverty, but I believe the City can be actively involved in acknowledging these issues exist and leading discussions with those in our community who are best equipped to address them.
The City can also create some part-time jobs in the summer for our youth, possibly through our parks and recreation programs I will work to fund private funding for this event, if needed, because giving a young person that first job can be a life-changing event for him or her.
Let’s make Cedar Rapids the “Volunteer Capital of the World!” Volunteering allows us to do more with less, leverage volunteers in our services, and build a stronger community where people feel connected to one another. When people feel connected to the community it helps create a stronger workforce, too.
After the 2008 flood and during our recent September 2016 flood scare, an army of volunteers materialized, with each person wanting to help, to be a part of the effort. We will find ways to enlist and engage those volunteers in meaningful volunteer opportunities that will continue to benefit our City, our schools, our neighborhoods, our parks and the volunteers themselves.
We can do this by working with one or more existing organizations that already have a process to recruit, train and engage volunteers. We can widen and grow the volunteer opportunities. We could launch this effort with a weekend of volunteering on the anniversary of that September 2016 weekend when our community saved the city from the rising waters.
And that fifth season we have here in Cedar Rapids–”a season to enjoy the other four”–may need to change to “a season to enjoy the other four and to give back.”
OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE
City leaders should be accessible to all in our community. I’m sure all our City Council members understand and agree with this statement. Our mayor needs to serve this community and everyone in it.
As mayor, I will look at re-establishing a Mayor’s Youth Council to invite young people to share their views and insights and help develop and implement changes or programs that may be identified. Similar councils can be created with our seniors and other groups that have needs and ideas that should be heard.
You will still see me at Hy-Vee, at St. Paul’s, at the library, and all around town. Please don’t be afraid to say hello and share an idea or concern with me. A mayor’s role is to serve you. As mayor, I will welcome your input.