Davenport Mayoral Primary Election Guide Print
Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics
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Tuesday, 02 October 2001 18:00
Introduction The October 9 Davenport primary election features a crowded field for both mayor and the city’s two at-large city-council seats. To help voters make informed decisions about the candidates, The River Cities’ Reader sent questionnaires to the seven people vying for Davenport mayor and the five people aiming for the city’s alderman-at-large seats. Their responses are presented in full.

Alderman Bill Sherwood, who is running for mayor, was the only candidate who did not respond to the questionnaire, which was sent via e-mail and U.S. Postal Service. He also did not respond to a follow-up e-mail message or phone call.

In addition to these races, primary elections will be held in the city’s Fourth and Fifth wards. For more information on those contests, visit (http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/candidatelist-primary.html). The general election is November 6.

Vote for one candidate. The top two finishers will advance to the November 6 general election.

What are the three most pressing issues likely to face the city during your term, and what specifically would you support to address them?

Charlie Brooke: Fix the sewers. Pass a bond issue if necessary. Also build new sewers, such as an I-280 interceptor, which would allow west-Davenport development.

Bring high-paying jobs to Davenport. Go recruit employers and new businesses, and give incentives to existing businesses.

Revitalize downtown Davenport. Support River Renaissance. I have other ideas also.

Pamela Davis: Safe streets and neighborhoods. Any major change has to start with the people. First I would ask neighbors to get involved as a group. A neighborhood-policing program would be started with a grant. I have already met with community leaders to get a grant written. Studies show that community policing works. Policemen would be walking beats and riding bikes throughout all eight wards. Community policing shows our young people that we can work with the Davenport Police Department. Also, policemen get to know everyone in their beats. It’s a win-win situation for all. I would offer increased support to fix up boarded houses and use these as police substations. People move back into areas where they feel safe. Also, build new homes on empty lots. This will bring families and encourage growth and stability.

Smart economic growth with living-wage jobs with real benefits. I would target Davenport with programs that would help small-business owners with good plans get started. I also will encourage Davenport to spend and buy locally. This would turn over seven times in our economy. I favor TIF to attract businesses to our area, making sure living-wage jobs and benefits are part of their plans. New businesses bring high employment levels and additional taxes into our city coffers.

A sewer system that is replaced throughout the city where needed and streets that are well-maintained. I have been looking at the blue boxes in which we leave our discarded plastic and bottles. These boxes are billed each month at $3 per household. Add this up, plus all contents in these boxes are sold at a profit to the City of Davenport. There are approximately four trucks and men to pick up the discarded plastic and bottles. This adds up to thousands of dollars per month. I would look into why some of this profit can’t be used to replace our sewers and for street repairs. I know that by using my brain and our vast resources – meaning the good citizens of Davenport – we can find other wasted money to fix this health problem.

Denise Hollonbeck: Streets and sewers. There needs to be an identified amount of the budget to address these problems. I would propose that an even larger percent of the new money brought in by economic development be dedicated to address this problem. The plan needs to be followed.

Need for high paying jobs. The mayor’s office needs to reach out to industry and government and persuade companies to locate in Davenport.

Downtown revitalization. Support the River Renaissance, as many people developed the plan and it will significantly enhance the quality of life in Davenport. It will provide art and music to Davenport, the Quad Cities, and tourists.

Luana Stoltenberg: I believe the three most pressing issues in Davenport for the next term are economic development; street and sewer repairs; and police-department concerns (a shortage of officers, the need for a new facility).

It is crucial that we market Davenport to businesses that are looking for a place to locate. We must welcome them and offer them incentives to come here.

I think we need to do more grant-writing to free up other monies and cut unnecessary expenses from the budget. This will create more dollars for streets, sewers, and police concerns.

John Waddell: Public safety. Try to increase the number of police officers and work toward a new police station.

Streets and sewers. Try to work toward a five-year plan for projected repairs and replacements.

Development, which includes working toward a new bridge to connect Iowa and Illinois. Development with builders and local businesses. Working with the Community & Economic Development department to make this a mission, not just a name. We need to be more aggressive in our partnership with Bi-State to make things happen for our metro area.

Bob Yapp: Currently, Davenport has no functional plan for the future. The old comprehensive plan was designed to benefit the local developers with no consideration for what is best for the taxpayer. Growth without a plan is always good for developers, but it’s rarely good for the taxpayers. I propose a mayor’s task force called Imagine Davenport. We citizens of Davenport must rise to the task and imagine together how we want our city to grow, create a 10-year plan that addresses growth in all areas of the city, and put it into action. Leaders from business, civic, neighborhood, and citizen groups will all have a seat at the table for this brainstorming and action-oriented task force.

Lack of enough new businesses and citizens moving into our city is a big issue. We need quality growth to create enough new property- and sales-tax revenue to maintain and grow our city. We must begin marketing Davenport to businesses, developers, and people all over America. Because state law will not allow us to raise property taxes (we shouldn’t anyway), and raising assessments to get around this law is unfair to the taxpayers, we must bring in new businesses and citizens that will pay new and additional property taxes. If we do this, other people and companies can help us pay to fix our streets and sewers.

To accomplish these goals we must have a city government that functions. All of the childish bickering, “business as usual,” and backroom dealing must stop. I have the leadership experience to bring a wide coalition of citizens and business and civic leaders to the table. If the citizens choose me to be their mayor, city-council meetings will change dramatically. It is not Public with Business that causes the unnecessarily long and painful council meetings; it’s the council itself. Aldermen come to meetings unprepared, tend to grandstand to the television camera, and ask staff questions they should have had answered before the meetings. This is inefficient and wasteful of the public’s time. The new mayor must sit down with the council, set a positive tone, and create a new framework that everyone agrees to work within.

List three specific city services or projects for which you would support increasing funding, even if it required reducing funding to other programs or projects.

Charlie Brooke: Fixing the sewers.

Fixing the streets.

Installing new sewers, such as I-280.

Pamela Davis: Candidate did not answer this question.

Denise Hollonbeck: Street repairs.

Sewer upgrades.

Revitalization.

Luana Stoltenberg: Sewer and street repairs.

Additional police officers.

Flood protection.

John Waddell: Street repairs.

Sewer repairs.

Public safety.

Bob Yapp: More funding for the police department.

Streets and sewers.

Highly focused neighborhood revitalization

If it were clear that a large majority of people in the city opposed a proposal that you strongly favored, what decision would you make and how would you justify it to your constituents?

Charlie Brooke: Elected officials should honor the clear wishes of a large majority of our citizens. If I disagreed with them, I would try to persuade them otherwise. That is the greatness of representative democracy.

Pamela Davis: I listen to the good citizens of Davenport. The only way that I would overrule the people would be over health or civil issues or public safety. I will be a servant of all the citizens of Davenport.

Denise Hollonbeck: The mayor is to serve the needs of the people. As mayor, I represent the people, and if it were clear that a majority of people do not favor a proposal, I would need to drop the proposal or make changes to satisfy the needs of the people.

Luana Stoltenberg: Unless it would be morally wrong, I would decide in favor of the majority. I would work for the people and therefore represent them, not just my own views.

John Waddell: I believe in referendums.

Bob Yapp: If I’m elected mayor, it will be because people listened to my ideas and my commitments. I always have and will continue to keep my promises. The good news is that every morning when I wake up, I realize how much more I have to learn. Citizens are the clients of city government, and we must never lose sight of that fact. If a majority of citizens disagreed with my position on an issue, I would need to find out why. Listening to all sides of any issue is an important part of leadership. Once I had all the facts, I would make a decision that I felt was in the best interest of the taxpayers. Regardless of my decision, I think it’s important to explain why I made my decision to the folks on both sides of the issue.

What specific proposals would you support to bring genuine economic growth - new jobs that pay well, companies committed to the community - to Davenport? What do you think are the most effective tools available to city government to spur economic development? What criteria should the city use to determine whether a project should receive TIF money or other economic incentives?

Charlie Brooke: To bring genuine economic growth to Davenport, I would support many measures. Our existing businesses should be given incentives and more efficient city government. New businesses should also be recruited. Where necessary, financial incentives, such as TIF zones, should be considered, discussed, and used. The criteria for city economic incentives should include that the development would not occur without such help, and the creation of new jobs.

Pamela Davis: I favor TIF to attract businesses to our area. Again, new businesses bring high employment levels. As mayor I would actively seek out companies that will work with Davenport and put it in writing that they will pay living wages with real benefits.

I would promote the fact that we have the best schools in the country. We’re a diverse community. We have a beautiful river and reasonable home prices. Also, we need to promote not just downtown Davenport but all of Davenport. I have visited some areas in Houston, Atlanta, and Austin. These areas have had radical spurts of growth. I would look at all aspects of how this took place when I become mayor and actively employ some of these plans that have been successful in their cities.

I feel that the criteria that should be used for TIF is that it would be used to attract businesses to our area. The City of Davenport should use TIF to encourage economic growth and urban development. We need to use TIF to build up all neighborhoods that are in need of repair. Let’s get families into homes. This builds up our tax base. Don’t tear these homes down or just let them sit and rot. Also, let’s be sure that in using TIF monies, we get a firm commitment from business owners to stay and operate in our area, and also that our citizens are treated and paid well. We want them to stay and become part of the community, paying taxes, spending, having families, and sending their children to our wonderful schools.

Denise Hollonbeck: The city of Davenport needs to get out and build bridges. We have a work force and available sites, and are continually increasing our quality of life. We need to spread the word. I believe TIF needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. If using TIF would benefit the community in the long run by increasing jobs, and the other affected tax bodies – that is, the school district and the county – agree and feel the loss of tax dollars is worth the investment, then I would encourage use of this tool for economic growth.

Luana Stoltenberg: Proposals I would support to bring genuine economic growth would be aggressive marketing of our area. I would listen to the public, the city council, and administrator for their ideas on growth.

The most effective tools to spur economic development are tax abatements, tax freezing, grants, other development, and TIF districts.

TIF money should be used to purchase property, remove buildings, install or remove streets and utilities, and to construct public facilities. It must be done under the city council’s designation.

John Waddell: The most effective tool would be competent government to make sure that companies believe in our desire to have them enter our community. I believe TIFs should be used for re-development in needed districts.

Bob Yapp: We must immediately begin doing what the City of Davenport and the private development groups have not done: market our city. If the citizens decide they want me to be their next mayor, I will sit down with our new city administrator, Craig Malin, and take a hard look at how we can assist our economic-development department in doing not just a better job of marketing, but an outstanding job of marketing our great city to companies and developers all over the country. We are entering tough economic times in Davenport and America. This doesn’t present a problem; it creates an opportunity. Davenport has a lot to offer but if no one knows about us, it doesn’t much matter. Quality small and local business will be a major factor in our economic renaissance as well. We seem to always use a band-aid approach instead of having a comprehensive and well-thought-out plan. We have unbelievable human resources in this community. Let’s get the best business and civic marketing minds to the table, create a plan, and put it into action.

TIF is one of the best economic-development tools cities have at their disposal. This tool was created to give a financial incentive to businesses willing to locate in blighted commercial and industrial areas. If a business wants to rehab a building or construct a new building in a blighted area that’s in a TIF district, it is eligible for this tool. Cities sell bonds to create a TIF fund. These funds go to businesses and/or developers for infrastructure (sewer, roads, sidewalks, etc.) and various other expenses. Once the project is completed, there is no property-tax break and they pay full assessment. All of these taxes go back into the city’s TIF fund to be provided for other businesses willing to risk moving into these blighted areas. So, if a business receives $100,000 in TIF and their full assessment on completion is $10,000 per year, that money will be repaid in 10 years. Schools often worry about not getting their share of property taxes for 10 years but if TIF is provided in areas that wouldn’t see new development in the first place, they’ve really lost nothing. Iowa is one of a few states with a huge loophole in its TIF law. It allows cities to create TIF districts in nonblighted, suburban-like areas of cities. The northeast 53rd Street development is a perfect example of TIF abuse. Developers are falling all over themselves to build in this area. The last thing we need to do is give them financial incentives to do so. I would only support TIF incentives in blighted commercial and industrial areas.

Do you support the full implementation of Davenport’s River Renaissance plan? Which elements do you think are most important for the city’s downtown, and which are least important? Will you encourage voters in the upcoming referendum to support or oppose a county contribution to the plan of $5 million?

Charlie Brooke: Yes. River Renaissance is Davenport’s best chance to revitalize its downtown. The entire county and region will benefit. The brightest successes are the creation of 540 new permanent jobs, the creation of 300 construction jobs, a new use of the Peterson Building (rather than letting it slowly deteriorate), the improvement of the Adler so we can have first-class touring events, the creation of an AgTech center that promises to bring substantial new venture capital to local agricultural innovation, and the creation of a can-do attitude among our citizens, all the while getting a 500-percent return on our tax dollars. It is a great investment.

Yes, I have and will support a yes vote.

Pamela Davis: I support parts of the Renaissance but not all. Smart downtown growth. I do not put a stamp of approval on all that has been planned, with Davenport citizens not being made fully aware of the true costs. I feel that downtown needs businesses that will stay and pay living-wage salaries and benefits. Local people should be used whenever possible. A pharmacy and grocery store are needed, also. I am concerned for our children downtown who are playing on the sidewalks because they have no place else to play. The last thing we need downtown is another museum. I speak for the people! Davenport’s citizens have a right to vote! All the facts must be made clear. Let the Davenport citizens vote! I will abide by their vote!

Denise Hollonbeck: Yes, I support the implementation of Davenport’s River Renaissance plan. I think the package, as a whole, is important. The commercial development will bring high-paying jobs downtown that relate to our agricultural heritage. The music and art also tie in so well with our heritage and the Mississippi River culture. I am excited to see a plan that utilizes the great Mississippi River in our downtown and makes it an active part of our lives.

Luana Stoltenberg: I am in support of River Renaissance and the county contribution of $5 million.

The elements I think are most important are the AgTech Venture Capital Center and the parking buildings. This will help with economic growth in Davenport, and the new parking will help keep existing businesses in our downtown.

Being that the riverboat will benefit most by the skywalks, I would like to see it contribute a larger portion toward that project.

John Waddell: Yes. The city of Davenport has already committed $25 million to this project. The project is 75-percent completed. Passage of the referendum will put the remaining 25 percent in place.

Bob Yapp: Yes, I fully support the implementation of the River Renaissance Plan and encourage Scott County citizens to vote yes.

As I work with communities around the country, I see the positive impact these types of smart-growth developments make to long-term and sustainable economic growth. It’s not the immediate economic impact that will be the most significant; it’s what happens as a result of creating these new amenities that will really bring new growth for Davenport. Quality service, manufacturing, and retail businesses, large and small, demand that the communities they locate in have museums, parks, recreational opportunities, professional sports, theaters, economic and ethnic diversity, adequate streets/sewers, safe neighborhoods, civil rights for all citizens, functional government, and demonstrated investment by private-public partnerships in all areas of the city. River Renaissance begins to offer these types of amenities to new businesses but it’s just a start, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Crucial pieces needed to make River Renaissance a success are the surrounding historic neighborhoods. City planners around the country have understood for years that whenever you create a plan for downtown revitalization, there must be a strong and focused plan for the neighborhoods. Of the 10 not-for-profit housing organizations in Davenport, there is not one that can or does effectively work with middle- and upper-middle-income families. We have poured millions of federal tax dollars into these housing programs that only allow low- and moderate-income families to receive an incentive to live in the central city. What makes great neighborhoods is economic diversity. These neighborhoods were originally developed with homes for the riverboat workers, railroad workers, clerks, small-business owners, and wealthy bankers. Everyone lived in the same neighborhood. This was true economic diversity. Businesses don’t want to move into downtowns that are surrounded by blight. So to create economic diversity and a focused effort that shows progress, we need a new housing organization. The best models for this organization are private not-for-profit development corporations working side-by-side with downtown-revitalization and the low/moderate-housing groups. These organizations work with local banks for construction loans and use private dollars raised from businesses and foundations, not tax dollars, to create the initial incentives needed to renovate the larger, hard-case properties that are of interest to these families. They work solely with middle- and upper-middle-income families that have good credit and have usually owned a home before. This approach must be targeted in a very concise and visible area to show progress quickly. The result will be quality historic neighborhoods with people who care about their homes from all ethnic and economic groups.

I have been a small-business owner throughout my career and own a consulting firm called Preservation Resources, specializing in working with cities. I bring citizens, businesses, and civic leaders to the table to create plans for their communities utilizing historic preservation as an economic-development tool. There has been little effective marketing Davenport outside the Quad Cities. I have been promoting Davenport and the Quad Cities for years to millions of national viewers of my PBS television show, About Your House with Bob Yapp. I think my planning experience and national network of relationships with other communities, as well as planning professionals, give me a unique perspective needed in the mayor’s office.

What specifically would you like the city to do with the land it owns at 53rd Street and Eastern Avenue?

Charlie Brooke: Some of it should be dedicated to park use. I do not have enough information about the other alternatives to reach a decision. A new committee probably could reach a consensus.

Pamela Davis: I am not a city planner, but Davenport citizens would like more lanes added for better traffic flow and lights that are synchronized. Also, more green space and family parks are needed. I would like to have more Davenport citizens’ thoughts on this before I comment further.

Denise Hollonbeck: A decision on this land needs to be made. It had been through many committees, and still we are not any further ahead in plans. The new council will need to come to a consensus and act on it.

Luana Stoltenberg: I would like to see a plan developed that would divide the land. Part of the land could be used for a park, a sports complex, or other public needs. The rest of it could be used for economic development, so we can generate revenue to pay for other needed projects.

John Waddell: I believe the portion facing 53rd Street, which is highly commercial, should be sold off and the proceeds used to develop the rest of the area for park facilities.

Bob Yapp: It isn’t about what I want to do with the land the city owns at 53rd and Eastern; it’s about the citizens deciding what they want to do with it. We have a committee that was formed to explore options for this land. When that process is completed, we should look at the options presented, make a decision, and incorporate it into our new comprehensive plan. We need the plan first to ensure that any development, whether private or civic, is smart and sustainable growth that serves the best interest of the taxpayers.

To what extent to do you favor public participation in city-council meetings (e.g., allowing the public to speak on each agenda item, and public with business), and to what extent do you think that participation should be televised?

Charlie Brooke: I am in favor of public participation and televising meetings. There have been some who have abused the opportunity or grandstanded before the camera, and they need to be reminded not to waste the people’s time rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Pamela Davis: I feel that the public has a right to know information that is vital. I feel that the forum the Davenport school district uses would be excellent. All questions should be submitted in writing several days before the meeting. No personal attacks or name-calling and a specific time and amount of questions should be allowed.

Denise Hollonbeck: City government is in existence to do the business of the public. This can only be done through public participation. I also see the city council as the board of directors of a major business. There are appropriate times for the public to contact their officials and a time for the council to do business.

Luana Stoltenberg: I think there should be free access to “green sheets,” and council meetings should be aired in their entirety. Public comments should be limited to one to two minutes to prevent grandstanding and lengthy meetings. Every citizen should have a voice.

John Waddell: I think city-council meetings should be televised in their entirety. I believe the mayor or the chairman of the committees should allow citizen participation with each agenda item with public interest. Time limits and requiring that constituents stay on the issue-at-hand would serve the public well.

Bob Yapp: I totally support all council, commission, and committee meetings being televised in their entirety. I also want to see them broadcast live, as they happen. Currently they are taped for later broadcast, and this leaves the city open to accusations, true or not, that these tapes could be edited.

How should the city pay for street and sewer repairs the city has identified as necessary?

Charlie Brooke: Sewer and street work must be done. That is the first priority of local government. Budget re-allocations should be considered, and a bond issue also.

Pamela Davis: Use the monies the city collects from the blue boxes that plastic and bottles are stored in. Everything in the box is sold. Take some of this money and fix the sewers and streets. We pay $3 a month per household. Sewer fees should be used to fix sewers.

Denise Hollonbeck: There needs to be a percent of the current budget dedicated to the plan to fix the streets and sewers. There needs to be a line item to handle unexpected problems regarding streets and sewers. Then I believe as the tax base increases we need to dedicate a higher percent of the new tax money to speed up the rate that we are addressing the plan to repair and upgrade.

Luana Stoltenberg: To pay for street and sewer repairs, we need to generate income. That has to be done by either economic growth or cutting unneeded expenses from the budget. They need to develop a high-priority five- to 10-year plan that will solve the street and sewer problems.

John Waddell: We must stop reacting to requests between budget sessions. Davenport needs to implement a five-year plan with quarterly reviews. This would show overages and shortages so that adjustments can be made quickly.

Bob Yapp: I want to bring a widely diverse group of people to the table to imagine how we want our city to grow and where we can come up with the funds we need for the future. City government seems very top-heavy and inefficient to me. If we could make our government just 10 percent more efficient, it could bring huge rewards. The current 2002 budget of $157 million includes $140 million for Operating Budget (salaries, heat, etc.) and Capital Improvements (streets and sewers, etc.). Without laying off a single person or a significant reduction in services, I believe we could find 10 percent in inefficiencies. This would free up $14 million a year that we need for other crucial services. With a good comprehensive plan that covers the next 10 years, that 10 percent in efficiency creates $140 million in revenue that can actually fix our streets and, with federal grants, update and fix our sewers. We do have the capability of selling additional bonds to fund the $140 million estimate to bring our sewers up to speed, but this worries me. We are currently paying $17 million a year in interest payments.

Do you support ordinances requiring those who do business with the city or receive city incentives to pay employees a living wage? Why or why not?

Charlie Brooke: I am fearful that any city-mandated wage rate will drive jobs away from Davenport and dry up our economy. Also, attempts to solve broad social issues in local forums often do not achieve their goals, only putting the forum at a competitive disadvantage. New businesses are already eager to locate in Eldridge, DeWitt, and Bettendorf, as well as Moline. I am hesitant to give them more reasons to stay away from Davenport.

Also in general I am opposed governmental mandates.

Pamela Davis: I support this ordinance. The city is paying them decent wages. In turn, they need to pay a living wage. They choose to do business with the city. This keeps the economy prospering.

Denise Hollonbeck: I believe that you do a fair day’s work for fair day’s pay. I do not feel we should mandate, but rather we should attract a variety of business that offers high-paying jobs. Employees need to be offered a chance to develop skills to secure those high-paying jobs.

Luana Stoltenberg: Ordinances like that would eliminate the small businesses, or those that are just getting started that can’t afford to pay a living wage.

It would also stifle economic growth because we are telling businesses we don’t want them to pay taxes or locate in Davenport unless they pay a wage of $10 an hour or higher. We will lose those jobs to other areas that don’t have living-wage ordinances. Can we afford to turn down jobs, and tell business they aren’t wanted?

There is a need for minimum-wage jobs. Ordinances like that create discrimination and elitism.

John Waddell: Obviously, the answer everyone wants to hear is yes. But the answer to this is too varied and vague to be answered easily.

Bob Yapp: Yes, I support this ordinance. As mayor, I would encourage any new business to locate in Davenport regardless of what they determine their salary and benefits need to be. We live in a free-market society in which workers and trade unions, not government, fight for better wages and benefits. However, if a business looks to taxpayers for a subsidy from the City of Davenport, I believe we not only have the right but the responsibility to require they pay a living wage. When a business asks for these kinds of subsidies, it is a form of corporate welfare, and we should have no less stringent requirements for them than we do with individual welfare recipients.

One of the benefits of River Renaissance has to do with jobs. Living-wage jobs are a priority for the citizens of Davenport. Nationally, $10 an hour plus benefits is the absolute minimum for living-wage jobs. The recent economic impact study for River Renaissance indicates that of the 543 construction, retail, professional, entertainment, and facility-management jobs created, 120 will be full time, permanent, living-wage positions. However, this tends to be misleading. As a result of these jobs, there will be other benefits, such as people spending their wages in the community, new and increased property-tax revenues, and more sales-tax revenue. Local lumberyards, retail businesses, hotels, grocery stores, craftspeople, glass shops, and many other secondary businesses will benefit as well.
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