A decent bar, early in the evening, can make the promise of tomorrow seem closer than any troubles of today.
And that is how it seemed for the most part last night at the Dublin City Pub on First Street SE as the city’s three mayoral candidates took turns hustling to the microphone in a fast-paced, question-and-answer session with an annoying buzzer to enforce time limits.
At the event in front of about 100 people and sponsored by Gazette Communications’ entertainment magazine Hoopla, one questioner asked each candidate for a one-word answer to describe himself:
Ron Corbett said “leadership.” P.T. Larson said “full-time.” Brian Fagan said “commitment and passion.” When the crowd insisted on one word, he chose passion.
One questioner asked about the “strange and dangerous” back-in, angle parking on First Street SE and in other spots in the downtown.
Fagan, a City Council member and local attorney, admitted he voted to bring the style of parking to the downtown, and he said studies showed it was safer. Even so, he said it was not “user-friendly” and “will be phased out.” Corbett, vice president at trucking firm CRST Inc., said he held downtown event on his birthday in recent days and everyone wondered about the back-in parking. P.T. Larson, 52, a “floating” project worker at ACT Inc. in Iowa City, called the parking matter a “no brainer.” “Get rid of it immediately,” he said.
Fagan, the youngest of the three at 37, told the crowd that he and the current City Council had built a solid foundation for the city’s flood recovery and that an “exciting” time for the city was set to begin. He pointed to $25-30 million renovation of the Paramount Theatre, a $10 million investment in Legion Arts/CSPS and a $75 million in a new Events Center, which will feature an upgrade U.S. Cellular Center and a new convention center. The city’s proposed flood-protection system will add 250 acres of park along the river and a riverfront amphitheater, he said.
Corbett, older at 49, talked about moving to Cedar Rapids after he graduated from nearby Cornell College and how as a young man he decided to stay in Cedar Rapids and get involved in the community like he figured many of them were doing. He noted that he secured a seat in the Iowa Legislature at age 26 at a time of high joblessness and what he called Iowa’s first great “brain drain.” He said he had the leadership to bring jobs to the city so young adults will stay and advance their careers here and so others will come.
Corbett said he spent six years as the head of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce between 1999 and 2005, focused on “young people.” He helped shaped the city’s Vision Iowa project and its Fifteen in 5 planning process, elements of which — a Third Street entertainment district, riverfront amphitheater and year-round farmers market — are still ones the city wants to realize.
Fagan said bids on the work to renovate Third Street in the New Bohemia district are coming later this year and that a trails master plan was coming in December.
Fagan said he has been an advocate for the city in lobbying Iowa’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. Corbett said he has lobbied as Chamber president and been lobbied as a member of the Iowa House for 13 years. He noted that seniority is all-important in the U.S. Senate and that Iowa’s senators are the longest serving ones of any state but West Virginia. The city needs to establish an “aggressive agenda for D.C.” before either senator retires, he said.
Larson, not a front-runner by virtue of 12 previous unsuccessful runs for City Council, was outfitted in a purple sweat shirt with “Mr. December” on the front of it. He was predicting the race would need a December runoff. Larson said he will quit his job and work full time in the part-time mayor’s job if he wins.
<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=4ae1e6187a” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&task=viewaltcast&altcast_code=4ae1e6187a” >Hoopla Mayoral Debate</a>