[Note: On January 4, 2016, the seven members of Iowa City’s City Council elected me mayor of our city. I am very honored that they entrust me with this important position. Immediately after the election, I took a few minutes to state how I envisioned playing the role of mayor and what I hope we would accomplish over the next two years. What follows is the written version of that statement.]
As your nominee for mayor, I think I should state how I envision my role and what I hope we will accomplish over the next two years.
Trained as an urban planner, I think of myself as a visionary. When seeking reelection I said I wanted to build on what is already great about Iowa City and help lead it toward becoming a Just City.
As mayor I will do my best to help lead us in that direction.
But, as an experienced elected official, I am also very pragmatic. I want to get good things done, not just envision better futures.
Being pragmatic, I fully recognize that the mayor has but one vote out of seven.
What matters, therefore, is not so much my own personal vision but our collective vision.
That collective vision will be expressed in our new Strategic Plan. It’s too early to discuss specifics features of that Plan. In general, however, I expect the final version will retain several key elements of the previous Council’s Plan while also shifting significantly in the direction preferred by the new Council majority and the voters who elected them.
I expect that this new direction will lead toward Iowa City becoming a more inclusive, just, and sustainable city.
But what City government actually does in 2016 will be strongly influenced by the context provided by our city’s Council-Manager form of government and by the existing set of City policies, codes, budgets, plans, and personnel.
Very little of this context can or will be changed overnight.
Consequently, change will proceed incrementally, step-by-step, in a way that builds on what is already great about Iowa City but also leads in the creative new direction called for in November.
From time to time, members of interested publics will disagree about particular steps we propose to take, and we Council members will reflect that disagreement. So it should be in a lively democracy.
With that in mind, I should tell you that I am not just a pragmatic visionary. I’m also a principled negotiator. As such, I would expect to facilitate lively but productive engagement of our differences so that we can, thinking together, make better decisions.
This will require us to listen carefully to one another, focus on the substantive issue at hand, and avoid letting our disagreements become personal. We will be working together for at least the next two years, and one never knows when one will need to turn to someone else for support.
I am also, inevitably, a flawed human being who makes mistakes. When I do, I count on you to tell me and to help me correct those errors whenever possible.
Last, we are not completely the masters of our own fate. We will encounter unexpected events. You know, floods, tornadoes, great recessions, landfill fires. When such events occur, I am confident we will work together as a team, doing what our city requires.
In the end, I hope to use my skills as a visionary, a pragmatic incrementalist, and a principled negotiator to help lead our city step-by-step toward becoming a more inclusive, just, and sustainable place.
Working together, we can lead the way for the region and the state. We can strengthen bonds of mutual trust among diverse publics, serve the common good, and ensure that Iowa City will thrive for decades to come.