Why are you running for Davenport City Council?
As a married father of two kids, when I look around at my peers, there exists an unfair stereotype that you need to leave our city to give your kids the best. I believe in Davenport, and so I feel called to serve. I am a parent, small business owner and husband to a union employee. I am someone who has himself reinvested in the central city, and I am a home builder building in the newest areas of our city. I feel I’ll be offering unique and balanced, boots on the ground perspectives as issues come before the city council. I have been endorsed by the local business community (Iowa Growth PAC) and the local labor community (Quad-Cities Federation of Labor).
How does your work, public service or volunteer experience translate to serving on the Davenport City Council?
As a member of the homebuilding industry, I have had the opportunity to partner with families, tradesmen, other local small business owners and area municipalities on a day-to-day basis for over 10 years. Every day, it is my job to listen to people’s needs, interpret their needs, and translate them to one of my team members with the skill set to address their needs. I work hard to provide satisfactory outcomes and stay on budget. The job description of Alderman is very similar to what I do naturally.
In your estimation, what are the strengths of the city of Davenport?
The Eastern Iowa Industrial Center has positioned Davenport well to retain major employers, and secure new job creating industry.
The city has recently placed priority spending on roads and infrastructure.
Downtown continues to build on its success with major developments coming online and multiple small businesses sprouting up around them.
We have a talented staff in place, a professional city council, and a system that puts an emphasis on transparency.
What are the areas the city of Davenport can improve on?
A short term and long term strategy for continued residential investment and reinvestment.
Supporting a strong housing stock at all price points in safe vibrant neighborhoods within proximity to schools, parks, and services is interrelated to so many of the challenges our city faces: It supports our school districts. Pushes back on crime. Raises property values. Creates commercial opportunities. Attracts employers.
As Alderman something I would be passionate about is creating short term and long term policy to encourage significant private reinvestment in the city’s older neglected neighborhoods. I believe great opportunity exists to begin with areas in proximity to our burgeoning downtown and to build on momentum from there. In the short term I would like to slow down. Currently we are hastily rebuilding on vacant parcels in a neighborhood where surrounding property values cannot support the cost of new construction. If we slow down and work to control more of these parcels, with some patience I believe we could reimagine parts our river bluff neighborhoods.
City Council and staff have noted that suburban sprawl may not be the engine of economic growth it once was. As Davenport works to keep up with maintaining its aging roads and infrastructure it is true we need to be strategic in our growth.
But unless the city plants the seeds of for a dramatic shift of the market place, without suburban sprawl Davenport’s residential tax base potential will essentially be capped.
The city’s role in fostering opportunity for long term major reinvestment is similar to the role it was able to play in land holding and infrastructure investment for the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center where private investors could not feasibly do so.
By creating a unique housing opportunity within the central city, reinvesting where possible and rebuilding where necessary, we create property values that make momentum possible.
What have you identified as priorities or goals should you be elected?
Hold the line on taxes – Davenport has always been a great place to be from, affordable enough to raise a family, and retire. I will be fiscally prudent to ensure taxpayers are protected from increases in taxes and fees.
Revitalize our neighborhoods – I have an understanding of what it will take and how important revitalization is to support our schools, push back on crime, and reinforce property values.
Enhance our infrastructure – Bottom line, successful cities have quality streets and sewers. The current council has a plan in place and I am committed to ensuring that plan is executed.
Protect our riverfront – Our riverfront parks bolster Davenport’s cultural and economic vitality. My hope is the council will work together with the community to protect our riverfront from overdevelopment while incorporating creative new opportunities to encourage people to utilize our parks more.
Davenport’s riverfront is often times referred to as its greatest asset. Is Davenport on the right path to develop a “world-class riverfront?” Do you have a specific vision for what you would like to see or are there certain amenities you would like to incorporate?
Mostly yes, I believe Davenport is on the right path to developing a “world-class riverfront.” I think frustration is being felt, myself included, that we seemed to be caught flat footed after so many years waiting for the casino to leave, but my hope is that over time our patience will be rewarded.
I am for public access to the river, preserving its natural beauty, and protecting our levy from overdevelopment. But I am not in favor of empty green space that does nothing to engage visitors to utilize the riverfront on a daily basis. An essential ingredient to any urban waterfront is the energy that’s felt when it’s full of people, and I think that is the equation we need to solve.
As we begin to plan once again, I hope we can set a course forward and implement a design for a world class riverfront park that respects the River Vision plan. A world class riverfront park surrounded by a thriving downtown bolsters so many aspects of our city’s economic potential.
Davenport NOW was credited with spurring development at a time when construction was lacking. With the program scheduled to sunset next year, would you support continuing the program or what modifications would you like to see?
Davenport continues to face challenges in the new construction marketplace. In the short term I am in favor of continuing the Davenport NOW program.
As the city begins to put more emphasis on reinvestment in older neighborhoods it is important to strike a balance. Presently there is no impactful plan in place to stimulate major neighborhood reinvestment that will result in impactful property value increases. Before we have a plan in place to insure future reinvestment we should not turn away from the benefits new construction has on our residential tax base and the jobs it provides for small business owners and tradesmen.
Crime, particularly related to juveniles, has continued to be a problem in Davenport. How would you assess the city’s response to the uptick in crime and what other strategies or measures would help in curbing recidivism?
Positive steps the city has taken:
- Davenport used money left over from the 2017 general fund partnered with a matching grant from the Bechtel Trust to hire four new police officers. Two of those officers will be working in the schools which supports community outreach in addition to law enforcement.
- The city is putting a renewed emphasis on code enforcement, cracking down on negligent landlords where problems can fester.
- The NETS program has been successful in the past and we will need to work to implement it in different neighborhoods.
While there is no overnight solution to this problem, I think we are moving in the right direction. The specific challenges of recidivism is something I would work to better understand, specifically as it applies to juveniles, and how I as an alderman could support programs that have a track record of helping kids get on the right track.