CEDAR RAPIDS — Cloyd “Robby” Robinson — a former state senator, labor union officer and lobbyist for the conservative Iowans for Tax Relief — is running for the west-side District 4 seat on the City Council.
The District 4 incumbent, Chuck Wieneke, is not seeking re-election to the seat and will introduce Robinson at a campaign kickoff event at noon Friday at Ellis Park.
Robinson, 73, of 404 Cherry Hill Rd. SW, said on Tuesday that he isn’t running to “beat up” on the current City Council, to which he gives a B+ grade.
At the same time, he said he can provide some “balance” to the council, in part, by looking for ways to cut spending, which may include reducing the number of city employees, he said.
He pointed to the City Council’s decision to purchase and renovate the long-struggling Five Seasons Hotel downtown, and he said he wonders why the council, instead, hasn’t paid attention to the equally long-struggling Westdale Mall. He suggested the creation of a special taxing district at the mall, which might help private investors invest there. Perhaps, housing could be part of the mall property’s future, he added.
“I think people on the west side want something out there,” he said.
If elected, Robinson said he will pay attention to the interests of the constituents in District 4, which comprises most of northwest Cedar Rapids and a small part of southwest Cedar Rapids. He has lived in the district the last 51 years, he said.
“I care about the west side,” Robinson said.
Robinson spent his early years in Norway, Iowa, the youngest of 12 children. The family had moved to Cedar Rapids by the time he reached adolescence, a time when he focused on working, not school. He dropped out of school at age 14. He ran service stations in a variety of cities for a time, did a stint on the side in the Naval Reserves and began work as a production line operator at the Quaker plant in Cedar Rapids in 1961. He retired in 1996 at age 58 after 35 years at the plant.
At age 32, Robinson was elected to the Iowa Senate, where he served from 1971 through 1980, when he said family responsibilities, in part, convinced him not to seek a fourth term. However, he kept his fingers in the Iowa Legislature for 30 more years as a lobbyist for the Muscatine-based, conservative Iowans for Tax Relief. He resigned in late 2009.
Robinson, a registered Democrat, said he long has seen public-policy issues from both sides, worker and management.
This spring, he came out in favor of extending the city’s 1-percent local-option sales tax for 20 years to raise local funds to help pay for flood protection and to fix city streets.
He said he and his wife, Shirlene, are the parents of four children, two of whom have passed away.
Robinson is back in school, working to secure a high-school equivalency diploma.
He is the only candidate to date who is in the running for one of three council seats on the November ballot. Another announced candidate, Ruth Hart, has dropped out. She had entered the race for the at-large seat on the ballot, now held by Tom Podzimek, who is not seeking re-election.