Matt Hayek is expected to continue as Iowa City’s mayor for the next two years, City Council members told The Gazette.
His selection by his fellow City Council members to a third consecutive two-year term, expected to occur at a Jan. 4 meeting, would put him in position to end his council tenure as mayor. Hayek has been telling people he does not plan to run for re-election in two years, a decision he confirmed Friday.
“I think I run a pretty good meeting, and that’s the primary role of an Iowa City mayor,” he said of his interest in continuing as mayor. “And I’m willing to do it for a couple of more years and go out on a high note.”
Iowa City is among just a handful of the state’s 945 towns where city council members choose the mayor from among themselves rather than voters making the decision, according to the Iowa League of Cities.
The Iowa City mayor is a voting member of the seven-person City Council and presides over council meetings, helps set the agenda, is the council member who works closest with staff and is the public face of city government.
Council members Rick Dobyns, Terry Dickens, Michelle Payne and Jim Throgmorton told The Gazette Friday they will vote for Hayek as mayor.
“I think he’s got a very eloquent speaking and writing form,” Dickens said. “He does a very good job of representing Iowa City in many areas. … He just has an air about him that breeds confidence.”
Payne said Hayek keeps council members on task while including everyone in conversations, which she said is harder than it may seem.
“I think that that takes leadership skills to be able to do that and not make people feel like they are being cut off and not say what they want to say,” she said.
The reviews of Hayek were not all glowing. Throgmorton said he has a great deal of respect for Hayek but believes the mayor could do more to lead the city to address affordable housing concerns and issues affecting minorities.
“He’s a very skilled, savvy and I think somewhat overly cautious leader,” Throgmorton.
He said Hayek appears to be the only candidate for mayor, so he will vote for him. Throgmorton and Dickens said Susan Mims, who is mayor pro tem, expressed interest in being mayor but Hayek had more support.
Mims did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Newcomer Kingsley Botchway II could not say for sure how he’ll vote because Jan. 4 will be his first meeting as a council member and the process is new to him, but he said Hayek serving again “sounds like a great idea.” Botchway credited Hayek with helping him earlier this year in his role as chairman of a council-appointed diversity committee.
Hayek said issues Iowa City will face the next two years include development and redevelopment opportunities, fortification of older neighborhoods and financial pressures.
“A lot of exciting opportunities lie ahead,” he said. “At the same time, we face unprecedented threats in terms of decreasing state and federal funding. And as a result, our financial planning needs to be as careful as possible.”
Hayek is an Iowa City native who served five years on the city’s Housing and Community Development Commission before being elected to the City Council. That will be 13 years of service when his term is up, which he said is long enough.
Hayek is a partner in an Iowa City law firm and is married with three young children.