The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Archive for May 4th, 2009|Daily archive page

Rumor mill is right: Linn Supervisor Langston says she is considering suggestions that she run for Cedar Rapids mayor

In City Hall, Linda Langston on May 4, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston says she’s been asked to consider running for mayor of Cedar Rapids, “so I’m considering it,” she says.

Langston commented on Monday after she was asked about rumors that she might try a go at the mayor’s race.

She said she would make a decision soon.

“I really like the job I’m doing now, but I’m not ignoring the other,” Langston said. “Someone said, ‘This decision is yours, but you really got to want it.’

“And I’m not entirely sure at this point in time if I really want it. I am happy with the job I am presently doing. But I have not completely written off the consideration that other people have asked me to take seriously.”

Langston, a Democrat, said she is getting much of the push from other Democrats.

What she mostly needs right now, she said, is information. She said she’s developed a sense of what people want in a mayor and where they want the city to go as she has attended community gatherings and neighborhood meetings.

Now she said she is trying to figure out, “Is there any aspect of my alignment and interest that fits with the broader community?” she said.

Langston noted that Cedar Rapids’ form of government is not a strong-mayor form: The mayor is one of nine votes on the council.

“And the challenge is constructing what I would think of as a working consensus,” she said. “And when you don’t know the other players …”

The reference to players is a recognition that six of the nine council seats, including the mayor’s seat, are up for reelection in November.

“I consider myself a good consensus-builder, but it’s still a tough time. It’s a tough time to consider this,” Langston said.

She said she will decide quickly to put an end to the rumor mill that is churning now over her possible mayoral bid.

Ron Corbett, vice president at trucking firm CRST Inc. and former state Republican legislator, previously has announced his candidacy for mayor.

“Clearly, Ron is very committed to this,” Langston said. “Whether I am in or out of this race, I have absolutely every belief that Ron is in it for the long haul.”

Six of nine council seats up for election this year; one seat, Jerry McGrane’s, now has a race

In City Hall on May 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm

We have a City Hall council race.

Kathy Potts, a self-described homemaker and community activist who ran unsuccessfully last fall as a Republican for a spot in the Iowa Legislature, will compete to unseat incumbent Jerry McGrane for the District 3 seat on the City Council.

Potts, 50, who grew up in Mississippi, came to Cedar Rapids in 1999 with her husband, Tom, and four children when her husband took at job with Rockwell Collins.

If elected, she said she will listen to constituents, work hard to serve them and will see what she can do to see that the city depends more on local experts and less on out-of-state consultants to help on city projects.

She calls the current council “indecisive,” “lacking in leadership” and sometimes focused on matters that aren’t important.

Potts, of 1118 First St. SW, gives the council an average grade on flood recovery.

She and her family had water in their basement following the June 2008 flood, though she notes that they were fortunate compared to others nearby and many others in the city. An adult son and his wife now live with her and her husband because of flood damage to their residence, The Roosevelt apartment building downtown.

Cedar Rapids often is said to have — whether real or imagined — a west side and east side divided by the Cedar River, and the District 3 council district is the only one of the city’s five council districts with precincts on both sides of the river. Potts says both sides of the river are the same to her.

She calls District 3 a diverse district with neighborhoods and areas of differing income levels as well as the downtown.

She says she wants the city to work to keep and create jobs so that her children and their children can stay in the city.

Part of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood is in the District 3 council district, but Potts says she can’t find a bad part of that neighborhood no matter how hard she looks. She says there may be three or four bad houses here and there, but there isn’t a bad neighborhood, she says. She does not want the Police Department to get “heavy-handed” in reaction to a recent flurry of neighborhood crime, she says.

Potts says she is not running against incumbent McGrane, 69, a retiree and former Oak Hill Jackson Neighborhood Association president, but rather running to show voters what she has to offer.

“Jerry’s a nice guy,” she says.

Potts becomes just the third candidate to make it known publicly that she or he is running for a seat on the council. Six of nine council seats are up for a vote in the Nov. 3 election.

In addition to McGrane, Ron Corbett also has announced he is running for a spot on the council. Corbett, 48, vice president of trucking firm CRST Inc., wants to be mayor.