Newcomer Mazahir Salih wins Iowa City Council seat

IOWA CITY — Two familiar faces were re-elected to the Iowa City Council Tuesday night, while newcomer Mazahir Salih won the third open seat.

Current at-large member Susan Mims was elected to her third term on council, this time to represent District B after defeating opponent and University of Iowa student Ryan Hall with 4,197 votes to 2,920.

Mayor Pro Tem Kingsley Botchway II, with 5,638, votes was re-elected to his at-large seat, after both he and Salih, with 5,573 votes, beat out opponent and Nighttime Mayor Angela Winnike, who tallied 1,388 votes.

“(I’m) very pleased to have the opportunity to serve the community for another four years,” Mims said, adding that she believes now the council will review and update its strategic plan. “I would think it would look a lot similar to what we have.

“We’ve still got a lot of things to do on the environmental stuff, climate change, affordable housing. I don’t think we’ll see significant changes because we’re still in the middle of a lot of those things.”

All three terms are for four years each. Tuesday’s election winners will join current Mayor Jim Throgmorton as well as council members Rockne Cole, Pauline Taylor and John Thomas.

Current District B representative Terry Dickens did not seek re-election.

During the campaign, both Salih and Botchway discussed improving Iowa City’s affordable housing situation. The current council adopted an Affordable Housing Action Plan, which was approved in September 2016, to address the lack of appropriate housing within the city.

council adopted an Affordable Housing Action Plan, which was approved in September 2016, to address the lack of appropriate housing within the city.

Botchway said now that some work on the affordable housing issue is underway, he also wants to emphasize creating mental health programs and policies in his next term.

“That’s a larger conversation and we need to get a lot of stakeholders together,” Botchway said, noting that some area officials already have undergone crisis intervention training. “The mental health platform that I’ve discussed is a little more comprehensive than that in making sure to focus on mental illness across the board.”

Salih, who worked as a community organizer with the Center for Worker Justice, expressed interested during the campaign in improving the city’s transit system, especially for low-income residents. The public transportation system currently offers no service on Sundays with hourly stops on weekdays on most routes.

“I think low-wage workers, they need transportation on Sunday, after hours like second shift,” said Salih, who could not be reached for comment by deadline on Tuesday for this story. “While I talk to people in this community, some people have great ideas but they cannot participate on, like, City Council meetings, school board meetings because transportation ends early in some parts of the city.”

Iowa City Council members earn a salary of $7,155.20, while the mayor receives $8,153.60, according to an email from City Clerk Kellie Fruehling. The salaries are adjusted for inflation at the end of each September but aren’t implemented until July 1.

VOTER TURNOUT

This year saw low voter turnout, with only 15.5 percent of registered voters showing up to polls Tuesday. In the 2015 city election, Iowa City saw a 15.2 percent turnout while 2013 had a 22.39 percent turnout, thanks in part to a ballot measure that concerned an under-21 bar ordinance.

“We saw early voting numbers down, but we were hoping that people would turn out today. I mean these are very key races,” said Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert Tuesday afternoon.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.co

For all of The Gazette’s Election 2017 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

Source: thegazette