By Robin Kash
My wife, Judy, and I have found a home in Cedar Rapids after my retirement as a Presbyterian pastor. For almost seven years we’ve lived in Wellington Heights. We love our neighbors and our neighborhood. We both want to see our neighborhood flourish for all who live here.
My retirement business is that of citizen journalist. Over the past seven years, I have observed and recorded countless meetings of the City Council, its committees and agencies. I’ve also covered the work of the Linn County supervisors, the Cedar Rapids school district’s board, and many other government and volunteer groups. I came to understand how things work (and don’t).
I began to realize that I wanted to be more than an observer. I want to use what I’ve come to understand by becoming a member of the City Council. I can be an independent voice on the Council, raising questions that may otherwise go unasked, challenging when I believe things are headed in the wrong direction, and compromising for the common good when I believe doing so will move things ahead.
I will focus attention on flood protection. I will press the Council to become a leader in watershed management. Not only will better watershed management lessen the worst effects of catastrophic flooding, it also will clean up our much polluted waterways.
My roots are in neighborhoods. I’ve come to recognize the importance of neighborhoods for a vital Cedar Rapids. Our city’s leaders have said that strong neighborhoods are important. So, let’s have strong neighborhoods. I want our youngsters to have a better place to play than in the middle of streets. I want our youth and young adults to grow into citizens who embrace opportunities to make a living. Neighborhoods can help with recreation and jobs. We need to empower them to do it.
The city manager says we’re in a “boom.” We have had lots of building, much of it in the downtown. We need to invest in people. We need to invest in neighborhoods.
I want our streets repaired. Our streets should have been taken care of with money we’ve already paid. A culture of neglect prevented it from being done. The proposed extension of the 1-cent local-option sales tax for 10 years is inadequate and regressive. Inflation, repairs and new streets all combine to use up the estimated money available. Besides, we don’t need to be looking at the LOST as a “fix,” a habit to which we will become accustomed. The LOST should be used as it was following the flood of 2008: to help us out of a crisis not of our own making. The crisis of our streets could have been avoided had past councils done the right thing.
My work as citizen journalist has helped me appreciate “openness and transparency” in public life. It’s not something I’ll let go when I’m on the Council. Indeed, it will be all the more important.
l Robin Kash is a District 3 City Council candidate. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org