A few things are becoming clear in Cedar Rapids City Council candidate forums: people are concerned about their property taxes going up — something for which the city is only partially responsible for because of other taxing agencies and a property valuation rollback — city spending and making sure dollars at the city’s disposal are used on priorities.
I write about this in my Sunday, Oct. 16, column in The Gazette newspaper (we charge) but you get the gist here (free).
What those priorities should be varies from one detail to another but a sense of flood relief being completed soon and fairly and basics such as good roads, working sewers and public safety are at the top of the list. Other topics include economic development, city regulations and how the public can give input to council decisions.
This comes from what candidates are saying and what people are asking. None of it may surprise you. But as we enter the home stretch of 2011’s municipal elections in the Corridor it helps for perspective on why Cedar Rapids residents who care about this year’s City Council race are so interested.
Rain was pouring last week on Wednesday as I drove to Coolidge Elementary School for the debate The Gazette and KCRG-TV9 hosted that night in City Council District 4. Rain. An audience killer, I thought. Moreover, plenty of other candidate forums have been held and still are scheduled in Cedar Rapids. Wouldn’t residents opt to stay at home and, if interested in the candidates, watch the live telecast on KCRG 9.2 or, if not interested, “The Middle”, Major League baseball playoffs or some computer game?
Yet, more than 50 people showed up in the Coolidge cafeteria, submitting more questions than could be asked in the predetermined time. Questions included what each candidate would do to finish flood buyouts and keep spending and taxes down.
Our last in the series of three forums The Gazette and KCRG-TV9 have presented will put the three candidates for the at-large seat in the spotlight from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art auditorium, 410 Third Ave. SE.
As with the other two forums, the first half of the event will be a debate in which candidates speak without panelists intervening with questions. Candidates and people in the audiences have told us they like that format because candidates get ample opportunity to state their views.
Gazette Opinion Page Jeff Tecklenburg and KCRG-TV9 news anchor Bruce Aune will ask a few questions after the debate portion of the program. KCRG 9.2 will broadcast the event live, or you can watch a live stream at TheGazette.com or KCRG.com.