Man Suing Iowa City to Run for Council; Field Taking Shape

By Gregg Hennigan, Reporter

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By Ellen Kurt

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A man who is suing the city of Iowa City over a proposed high-rise building is running for City Council.

Rockne Cole is part of a growing field of candidates for three open seats on the seven-member council in the Nov. 5 election. Also running are incumbents Susan Mims and Terry Dickens and challengers Kingsley Botchway II and Catherine Champion.

Cole, 38, is an attorney and a leading critic of the city’s partnership with developer Marc Moen for a 20-story building slated for city-owned land at the intersection of College and Gilbert streets.

Cole and an organization he helped found are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the City Council last month seeking to prevent the building from being constructed.

Cole, of 1607 E. Court St., said the majority of the current City Council has focused development efforts on a small group of politically connected elites.

“I want diversity of opportunity,” he said at a news conference outside City Hall Tuesday. “I want diversity of our community. I want diversity and access to downtown.”

Cole is running for one of the two open at-large seats. Botchway, Mims and Champion also are running at large.

Botchway, 27, of 1054 Westside Dr., is Johnson County’s deputy auditor of elections and serves on Iowa City’s Police Citizens Review Board and the Ad Hoc Diversity Committee. The latter recently gave the City Council recommendations on how to improve the relationship between minorities and the city’s Police Department and transit system.

Botchway said he does not believe city officials have done enough with the recommendations.

“With all the stuff that we talked about with the Ad Hoc Diversity Committee, it feels like there should be a different voice on the council, someone who can speak to some of the minority issues,” he said.

His other priorities would be doing more to support young professionals and making the area more attractive to businesses and visitors.

Mims, 56, of 1173 Oakes Dr., said she’d push to make the diversity committee’s recommendations part of the city’s strategic plan.

She also said her experience as a financial planner would help the city with budget issues. Her focus also would be on economic development and resolving issues with the SEATS paratransit service.

Mims, who is wrapping up her first four-year term on the council, said she is seeking re-election because she enjoys the position and has a strong interest in the welfare of Iowa City.

“I feel like I bring ideas and thoughts to the table that are beneficial to the city, and I want to continue to do that,” she said.

Catherine Champion, 47, of 840 S. Summit St., is owner of downtown retail stores Catherine’s and Cheap & Chic. She also is past president of the Iowa City Downtown District’s board of directors.

Issues important to her are public safety, promoting controlled growth and developing a strong, business-focused community.

“I just want to continue my involvement in the community,” she said of her election bid. “I think I have a history of making sound decisions and good judgment. I think it’s a logical step for me.”

Champion is the daughter of City Council member Connie Champion, who is not seeking re-election this fall for her District B seat. Catherine said talking with her mother about council helped solidify her decision to run.

Running in District B, which covers much of the city’s east side, is Dickens, 58. He currently serves at large but said with Champion stepping down and his home at 1655 N. Dodge St. now in the district, it was natural to run for that seat.

Dickens, co-owner of Herteen and Stocker Jewelers, also is finishing his first term on the council. He’d like to see the city continue to work on economic development, especially attracting businesses to the northeast side, and explore merging the planning and the housing and inspection departments.

”We’ve got some unfinished business,” he said. “There are still some things I’d like to see done and changed.”

The filing period for the City Council election is Aug. 12 through Aug. 29, so more candidates could join the field.
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