District 3 council member Jerry McGrane announced Tuesday announced that he is seeking reelection to the city’s only council district that includes both east-side and west-side precincts.
McGrane, 69, lost his home at 1018 Second St. SE to the June 2008 flood, and he says he wants to stay on the council because he personally understands what other flood victims still wrestle with as they work to recover from the flood.
“I’m still the voice of the City Council when it comes to flooded people,” McGrane says.
At the same time, McGrane, who parlayed his past work as president of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association into an election victory in 2005, says he also wants to retain his seat on the council so he can be a lead voice on neighborhood revitalization efforts.
“We still have a lot to accomplish with the Enhance Our Neighborhoods effort, and there’s a lot of housing problems and the beginning of a lot of crime problems,” he said.
McGrane and his wife, Judy, currently reside in one of the manufactured houses provided to flood victims by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, though he will return in June to the Oakhill neighborhood in a house now under construction at 1105 Eighth St. SE.
Of note of late, McGrane joined forces with council members Justin Shields and Monica Vernon in an unsuccessful effort to wrestle some control away from City Manager Jim Prosser. The three-member minority on the nine-member council tried to create a flood recovery CEO that would sidestep Prosser and answer to the council. But the council majority nixed the idea, saying the city’s charter allows only one chief executive.
McGrane, though, said his campaign for reelection has nothing to do with trying to replace Prosser, the city’s first city manager in the city’s three-year-old council/manager government.
“I’m running because I’ve done a good job. I’ve helped a lot of people,” McGrane said.
District 3 comprises both the flood-damaged Oakhill Jackson/New Bohemia areas on the east side of the Cedar River and the flood-damaged Czech Village area on the west side of the river.
McGrane said he is aware of reports brought back from Grand Forks, N.D., where some Cedar Rapids city leaders went after the June flood to see how the North Dakota city had dealt with its own flood disaster in 1997. Apparently, the entire City Council up for reelection in Grand Forks was defeated following the flood.
McGrane said it would be a mistake for Cedar Rapids voters to fill all six seats up for election in 2009 with new faces. Much has been invested in the city’s flood recovery to date, and some continuity is important to see the recovery through, he said.
McGrane characterized himself as a council member who listens more than talks, and he noted that he is the only current council without a college degree.
“What you see is what you get,” he said. “No thrills. No frills. Here I am. If you don’t want to know the answer, don’t ask me.”
His council district also stretches into higher-end neighborhoods on the city’s southeast quadrant, and McGrane noted that he sided with neighbors to make sure the East Post Road bridge over Indian Creek remained a two-lane bridge and to block a plan to connect two sections of Bever Avenue SE that neighbors feared would turn the street into a thoroughfare.