Thursday, November 05, 2009

Channeling Bess

So it's time to come clean here and admit that over the last 2 months I have been running for political office. At the end of August I filed for University Heights city council. Terms are two years long; we have 5 councilors and a mayor, who also serves a two year term. This means our town elections are like the U.S. House of Representatives, everyone is up every two years. Elections only fall in odd numbered years when NOTHING else in on the ballot.

Bess, who built Foxcroft, was on the original University Heights city council. The town incorporated in 1935, seven years after she built here. She was the only woman on the council, and apparently only served one term. University Heights will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee next summer, our 75th anniversary.

There were 10 candidates for 5 seats on council and 2 candidates for mayor. All the incumbents were running along with 6 challengers. We officially have 798 registered voters in town, which is falsely high. Given that we have many medical, and graduate students who live here for a short while, then graduate and move on, many names on the rolls are no longer here. I would guess our electorate is closer to 650.

When I decided to run I made a vow to walk around town at least once a week, knock on doors and talk to people. I did that and it was fascinating. I really had fun. Besides the conversations, stepping onto everyone's porch or stoop allowed me to notice details about houses that you don't pick up on even when you're on the sidewalk. We have so many 1920's-1940's homes that are in such good shape. The mid century modern homes are spectacular, and our "new" homes from the 1960's and 70's are also of very high quality. The only architectural beef I have is with our apartment complex that was build right after WWII. It is being converted to condominiums and I was saddened to see their original windows get replaced, the new ones don't fit the character of the building well.

We had one political event, a candidate forum that drew about 150 people. With so many candidates and a promise to keep the event to only 2 hours long, we were given three questions in advance. Each question, along with our opening and closing statements were to not exceed 2 minutes. Everyone held to it.

Typical voter turnout for municipal elections has been in the 200's. The record turnout was 350 in 2005 (the first year we voted here) due to a library levy being on the ballot. On Tuesday 413 people voted. That is a 51.8% turnout officially or about 64% using my adjusted numbers. Iowa City (the larger community that completely surrounds us) had a municipal turnout of 9.7%.

I was one of the winners. I'm happy and more than a little nervous. I take very seriously the public trust of my neighbors. Here are the official results. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find us.

The editorial page editor of the Iowa City paper called yesterday and asked why did I think U-H should remain a separate entity. I replied it's pretty obvious that we participate in our community life to a degree unparalleled by our neighbors, individual voices certainly matter. Who wouldn't want to live in community like that? Who wouldn't want to work to ensure its future?


Black Dog's Photographer said...

Congradulations to you. I'm sure you will do very well for your community.

StuccoHouse said...

Congrats! I'm sure you will make an excellent Council member. Your respect for and interest in your community is clear in your blog. Just steer clear of a political scandal that will reflect poorly on the houseblog community :-)

Mike said...

Thanks to both of you! I will do my best to uphold the high standards of the Houseblog Nation.