Leland Freie, who is the day manager of Foundation 2’s youth shelter in Cedar Rapids, is running for an at-large spot on the City Council.
Freie, 62, participates in the community. He is a member of the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission, has served on the city’s Grants and Programs Committee, is president of Cedar Rapids Audubon Society, sits on the steering committee of the Cedar River Watershed Coalition and the board of Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair, and is a member of the Linn County Trails Association and Harmony Hawks barbershop chorus.
Freie, of 2052 Linn Blvd. SE, said it was former City Manager Jim Prosser who drove home to him the point that people need “a sense of place,” and he said as a City Council member he would help Cedar Rapids flourish and progress so people and businesses want to be here and move here.
He said he will work to make sure the local economy is strong because he said a strong economy makes for a community with an educated, creative work force that pays property taxes and is willing to give back to the community. He has seen firsthand how residents in Cedar Rapids give back as an employee in the non-profit sector for 25 to 30 years, he said.
Freie said he supports the use of City Hall incentives “with some balance” to spur private-sector investment and job growth. He pointed to a decision 12 years ago by the City Council to provide incentives that helped Hy-Vee Food Stores build a new, urban grocery store at 1556 First Ave. NE to serve two lower-income neighborhoods.
“Where would they have gone to the store?” Freie said of the neighborhood residents. “That is an example of an investment for the good of the community.”
Freie said he also supports the Nov. 5 ballot measure to extend the city’s local-option sales tax to fix city streets. The streets need attention, he said, and he said that those living outside of the city who do not pay Cedar Rapids property taxes use the streets and will pay the sales tax.
“What kind of community are you willing to live in and what are you willing to pay for?” Freie said the important question is.
Freie said he was raised on a dairy farm and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dana College in Nebraska and a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation from the University of Iowa. He said he traveled and worked in inner-city communities in his early adult years, and he said it was good for high school and college graduates in Cedar Rapids to spend some time seeing the world.
Cedar Rapids then needed to make sure it was attractive enough to lure them back home, he said.
Freie said it became clear to him this spring that the city’s needed flood protection when he said he was helping place sandbags in New Bohemia this spring as the Cedar River threatened to flood. “Why are we doing this again?” he said he asked himself. “We don’t have a choice,” but to build flood protection, he said.
Freie supports the city’s Blue Zone initiative, which he said is an effort “to take care of ourselves” and do a part in helping to drive down future health care costs.
His wife is Valerie, and he has one adult son and four grandchildren.
Freie ran unsuccessfully in 2006 for the Cedar Rapids school board.
Six other candidates, including incumbent Chuck Swore, are competing with Freie for two at-large council seats on the Nov. 5 ballot.