By Ajai Dittmar
My ancestors settled in Cedar Rapids in the early 1900s and I am the sixth generation to live here. I am a mother of four. My children and I attended every Neighborhood Planning Process meeting after the 2008 flood. We had 7 feet of water in our first floor.
I am a decade younger than the average age of the current council members. I hope to energize younger people to get more involved as we move our city forward.
One way to do that is to get back to the basics. I will challenge the council to not spend your local, state or federal money like it’s theirs. If the rest of us need to be fiscally frugal, then the council should lead by example.
I supported the 1-cent local-option sales tax the first time, but was disappointed when I saw that the money wasn’t being spent the way they said it would be. I was appointed to the Local-option Sales Tax Oversight Committee for one year by Mayor Ron Corbett in 2010, but found out it had no authority. So I voted against both extension proposals and will do the same this time.
“We the people” should decide what projects for which we want to pay. As we watch Iowa City and Johnson County residents and officials banter over a jail, we’ve had no say whatsoever in the rebuilding of our town. This council bonded $83 million in 2012, and used $57.9 million of that for the hotel, convention center and parking ramp. That’s just one of the many projects for which we did not vote.
Our city has misprioritized its spending, which has hurt our roads. They’ve instead concentrated on some unnecessary street projects and streetscaping.
I’m a Kirkwood Community College graduate, earning the “Outstanding Student Recognition Award” in Law Enforcement, attaining an associate degree in Criminal Justice.
In 2006, I joined the Victim Advisory Committee at the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services where I gained experience in policy writing. I will apply my education and service in criminal justice and victim services to collaborate with the Cedar Rapids Police Department and Correctional Services to create a respected and constitutionally correct public safety system.
Our entire city was impacted by the flood in June 2008. I will use my familiarity of the river and the flood to explore and promote all possible cost-efficient and effective flood-protection alternatives, such as dredging the river.
I will use my experience as an activist to be a voice for those who haven’t been heard. One way to achieve that is by holding council meetings in the evenings so more people can participate.
Ajai Dittmar is a District 1 City Council candidate. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org