17 People to Compete in 6 Races for Cedar Rapids Council

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Four-year-old Brynn Wilden (center) looks at her mother Janda's ballot as she accompanies her and her father Matt and her brother Luke, 20 months, to the polling place at the Vinton Skate & Activity Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Vinton, Iowa. This is the first year that the Benton County community has consolidated voting precincts into one location. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)


By Ellen Kurt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Seventeen people met the 5 p.m. Thursday deadline to submit nomination petitions to compete in the six City Council races on the Nov. 5 election ballot.

Seven candidates are running for two at-large council seats, four for the District 3 council seat and three for the District 1 seat.

In addition, Mayor Ron Corbett has one challenger, past political candidate Greg Hughes, who received 1.2 percent of the vote when he ran for Congress in 2012 as an independent and 0.3 percent of the vote when he ran for governor in 2010 with no party affiliation.

Two-term District 5 council member Justin Shields, 71, a retired Quaker Co. employee and local labor leader, is running unopposed as he did four years ago.

Voters also will decide on Nov. 5 if they support a 10-year extension of the city’s 1-percent local-option sales tax to fix city streets.

The race for the two at-large seats on the ballot features Chuck Swore, 70, an incumbent who runs his own business consulting firm and is retired vice president and general manager at Acme Electric; Anthony Brown, 29, a staff member with Diversity Focus; Leland Freie, 62, day manager at the Foundation 2 Youth Shelter; Carletta Knox-Seymour, 59, a small-business owner and City Planning Commission member; Jerry McGrane, 74, a former City Council member and former president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association; Ralph Russell, 67, retired former president/CEO of engineering firm HR Green Inc.; and Susie Weinacht, 50, part-time manager for RWDSU-UFCW Local 110 and part-time executive director of the Iowa PTA. Leland Freie, who previously was unannounced, filed papers with the City Clerk late Thursday afternoon.

The District 3 race finds two-term incumbent Pat Shey up against challengers Robin Kash, Alan Modracek and Robert Bates.

Shey, 54, owns and operates a green insulation company, Sage Companies Inc., and is an attorney and former state legislator. Kash, 72, is a retired Presbyterian minister who has operated his own video news operation, Neighborhood Network News, since 2007. Modracek, 33, who served for six years in the U.S. Navy, is a technician who fixes industrial cranes for Konecranes. Bates, 47, was a council candidate in 2005 and was disqualified as a candidate in 2007 when he did not have enough valid signatures on his nomination petitions.

In District 1, two-term council incumbent Kris Gulick, 54, a certified public accountant and owner of a business consulting firm, faces Ajai Dittmar, 42, and Clark Rieke, 66, who announced a run for the City Council in 2009 and then changed his mind.

Swore was a council member from council District 4 in 2006 and 2007, and was defeated in the November 2007 election by Chuck Wieneke, who did not run in 2011. Swore then ran successfully for an at-large seat in 2009.

Shey was an at-large council member from 2006 through 2009, and won the District 3 seat over then-incumbent McGrane in 2009.

Shey, Gulick and Shields are the only three who have been on the council since 2006 when the city moved from a five-member, full-time council to a nine-member, part-time council.

Corbett, 52, works as a special projects manager for CRST Inc. and is former speaker of the Iowa House and former president/CEO of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

Corbett defeated council incumbent Brian Fagan and challenger P.T. Larson for mayor in 2009.

Hughes, 56, works at Quaker Co.

A runoff election will be held on Dec. 3 if none of the candidates in the District 1 and District 3 races wins a majority on Nov. 5.

Voters vote for two people in the at-large race, so a candidate must receive 25 percent of the total votes plus one vote to win on Nov. 5. There will be a Dec. 3 runoff if two of the seven candidates don’t receive sufficient votes on Nov. 5.

The second-place finisher in the at-large race will win a two-year term and will face re-election in 2015. The one-time, two-year term will improve the stagger of the council election races from six races one year and three two years later to five and four.

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