These two races have a couple things in common.
Both feature two-term incumbents. Both include one challenger who has frequented City Council and other City Hall meetings.
And both include a frequent vocal critic of City Hall.
In District 1, the incumbent is Kris Gulick, 54, a certified public accountant and owner of a business consulting firm. He is being challenged by Clark Rieke, 66, who is a retired Realtor and real estate appraiser who has attended frequent City Hall meetings and is on the board of the Mound View Neighborhood Association, and by Ajai Dittmar, 42, a homemaker who manages a website called CR Smells where critics of City Hall interact.
In District 3, the incumbent is Pat Shey, 54, a lawyer, business owner and former Iowa lawmaker. He is being challenged by Robin Kash, 72, a retired Presbyterian minister who attends most city meetings as a video newsman with his business Neighborhood Network News; Alan Modracek, 33, an industrial crane repairman; and Robert Bates, 47, an event vendor who is quick to mention his criminal record and is a critic of City Hall.
In District 1, Gulick, of 2103 Linmar Dr. NE, touts his professional financial background, saying it gives him an expertise to understand city fiscal matters. He is chairman of the council’s Finance and Administrative Services Committee, where he has pushed for the city’s long-term financial planning, he said.
Rieke, of 1614 D Ave. NE, says the city needs a strong downtown and a strong urban core and that it should better balance growth there so not too much takes place on the city edges.
Dittmar, who resides at 1426 First St. NW in the only flooded home still standing on First Street NW in the Time Check Neighborhood, feels her relative youth can help energize the council and get it “back to basics” and move it to smaller government.
Gulick and Rieke support the Nov. 5 ballot measure to extend the local-option sales tax to repair streets while Dittmar did does not.
Dittmar and Rieke said the city should build fewer trails and bike lanes, while Gulick said the investments improve the city’s quality of life and are in line with the community’s Blue Zone wellness initiative.
Rieke said the city should have built the new central fire station on a less valuable piece of property, while Gulick said the site was selected because of its ability to get to fires and other emergencies quickly. Rieke also said the city should never have closed a portion of Second Avenue SE to allow the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa to build on it.
In District 3, the three challengers, Kash, Modracek and Bates, say they oppose the extension of the local-option sales tax, while incumbent Shey supports it.
Shey, of 501 Knollwood Dr. SE, called it “impossible” to improve the city’s streets by relying only on property-tax revenue. The sales tax, which also is paid by those who come to Cedar Rapids, use the streets but live elsewhere, is fairer, he said.
Kash, of 1806 Grande Ave. SE, and Bates, of 419 Seventh Ave. SW, said the city has other avenues for funding to fix streets. Kash said the city shouldn’t tie up the local-option sales tax for 10 years to fix streets. It might need the money for flood protection, he said.
Modracek, of 2321 Teresa Dr. SW, said he expected the tax to pass and so would he will work to make sure the revenue is spent correctly. He has voted against earlier tax-extension proposals because he said he hasn’t trusted city leaders to spend the revenue right.
Shey said the City Council has met its flood-recovery goals and has gotten the city back on its feet from the 2008 flood. Proof is an “unprecedented” amount of private-sector investment in the city, he said.
Kash said the city has a lot of vacant office space downtown, some of which should be converted to residential units, he said. Modracek contended the city needs for manufacturing jobs.
Most of council District 1 is in northeast Cedar Rapids west of Council Street NE and west of Oakland Road NE. It also includes the Mount Mercy University area and a northwest Cedar Rapids voting precinct.
Most District 3 voters reside in southeast Cedar Rapids, including downtown. The district also includes some voters in southwest Cedar Rapids and small portions of northeast Cedar Rapids, including Coe College, and northwest Cedar Rapids.