Cedar Rapids mayoral candidates weigh-in on economic issues at forum

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - Eight candidates for Cedar Rapids mayor weighed in on economics and jobs in the city at a forum Thursday.

KCRG-TV9 partnered with the Cedar Rapids Economic Alliance and the Hawkeye Labor Council for the forum. It's one of a few forums to help voters narrow down their favorite from a large field of candidates.

The first question asked the candidates what their top priority would be as mayor, here are their responses:

Monica Vernon: Fixing streets
Lemi Tilahun: Investing in youth
Jorel Robinson: Investing in youth
Tim Pridegon: Bringing more diversity to city hall
Scott Olson: Affordable housing
Gary Hinzman: Economic Development
Kris Gulick: Economic Development
Brad Hart: Economic Development

Many answers to questions had a lot of similarities. When asked about collective bargaining, all eight said they support the unions.

"Most of my life I have been a registered Republican never voted straight ticket I voted for the person, the idea that collective bargaining law supposedly hadn't been reviewed I thought lets look at it, personally I though they went overboard," business attorney Brad Hart said.

"I always felt that our collective bargaining units had a fair play in what we were doing and in fact they added structure to the business that we had," former Cedar Rapids police chief Gary Hinzman said.

"The irresponsibility on behalf of our elected officials really speaks volumes this is why representation and getting younger and having fresher perspectives matters," activist Lemi Tilahun said.

"It really creates this working together to make things happen in a community when one doesn't say you can't do something but people work together to get a better life for themselves," former council member Monica Vernon said.

Another question asked how the candidates plan to get people interested in moving to the city and also keeping youth from moving to other cities. There were some differing responses but ultimately many said the city needs to continue to become more enjoyable.

"What we need to focus on Is that we need to understand that it's gonna take a lot of things retail opportunities, it's going to be activities," council member Scott Olson said.

"I believe that Cedar Rapids is a lovely place and I will tell you something else that people here get along and whether you know it or not I know it as a divine thing the spirit of God is here in cedar Rapids," minister Tim Pridegon said.

"The important thing is creating an environment that when you get off of work you and your family have something to do," activist Jorel Robinson said.

"Ultimately that plan is coming to fruition now and we're creating those spaces and places in our community where people who lived here in Cedar rapids and left and come back and say wow we've seen a lot of changes, " council member Kris Gulick said.

There's another chance to see the candidates at a forum on October 17th put on by the League of Women Voters.

The forum will be held from 6 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. at Whipple Auditorium in the Cedar Rapids Public Libary. It is free and open to the public.