Everything we do in local government should serve to build up our community. It should be our goal to build a safe and equitable city, where all people can thrive. However, in order to adequately support our community, our government must be engaged with it. This means our government must strive to be open, accessible, and genuinely interested in bringing residents to the table so that they can have a say in the affairs of our city. Our community is best served when the voices of the people are not only heard but welcomed.

We are One Community, and we are One Cedar Rapids.

Government should be open and accessible to all

Local government should be a place that brings people together. When we get through the pandemic, I would like to bring government to the people, and bring the people to our city council chambers. When important topics arise, we should encourage community input and participation. There are any number of innovative ways we can receive this input. We could use live polling technology, we could hold meetings in community centers, and we could designate one day per month where residents can quick-pitch councilmembers on innovative ideas and solutions.

Building community means investing in community

We are the second largest city in the state, which means we face large and complex challenges. Luckily, we are also the second largest economy in the state, which means we have the resources to develop innovative solutions and foster partnerships in the community that can help us even more. If we are going to be serious about developing a fair, just, and sustainable community, then that means we must commit to serious community investment. This means strengthening existing partnerships within the nonprofit community, while also looking for emerging leaders and organizations to support. We must invest in family-friendly community events like block parties, Market After Dark and other accessible events that bring people together.

Prioritize recruiting and retention of top talent

Building a 21st century economy requires us to recognize that we are not only competing with surrounding cities for talent, but with surrounding states and even other countries. In this global economy, our city must prioritize recruitment and retention efforts to bring talented professionals to our community, and keep them here. A comprehensive recruitment and retention strategy includes the input of several stakeholders, including businesses, community leaders, educators, hospitality professionals, and many others. We must consider everything from the quality of our schools, adequate housing stock, the availability of childcare, the diversity of entertainment options, to our city’s commitment to climate action and social justice. All of these things matter when it comes to attracting the modern worker. All of these things matter when it comes to building a prosperous and equitable community.

Building an engaging community

Cedar Rapids should be a community that celebrates diversity. We need diverse entertainment options that are affordable, and accessible. Elevating the arts and culture scene, attracting diverse talent, making the city more walkable, improving public transit, are among some of the strategies to make Cedar Rapids a more vibrant city.

Building a sustainable community

The Cedar Rapids Climate Action Plan is a good start to making our community sustainable. We must fully commit our city to this plan, and partner with other governments and community partners across the state to realize the ambitious goals of our Climate Action Plan. Although we have the blueprint, we must continue our efforts to engage the public in this important work to build a community that understands and values our commitment to a more just and sustainable future.

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