Each of the four candidates for Davenport's two at-large city council seats favor economic development as a way of improving city finances. But they have different opinions on how to do it.
Incumbents Gene Meeker and Jason Gordon and challengers Dale Gilmour and Kevin Perkins are vying for the two two-year terms. In the Oct. 8 primary, 212 votes separated Meeker, the top vote-getter, and Perkins who finished fourth in the five-candidate race. Cheryl Draeger was eliminated in the primary.
Gordon and Meeker want to focus on areas within the city, particularly along main roads and areas prime for development such as the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center. Gilmour agrees on developing on commercial corridors, particularly along 76th Street. Perkins favors a regional approach, working with the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce, labor groups and Bi-State Regional Commission.
Areas designed for development are important, Gordon said.
"We have had some success here over the past couple of years, and with the renovations and improvements to the Davenport Airport and the addition of a rail spur and transload facility in the (Eastern Iowa Industrial Center), I am confident we will see much needed manufacturing and industrial growth here," Gordon said.
The city needs to continue to build on its recent successes, Meeker said.
"I believe we have done a very good job as our tax base has risen through recent years," he said.
Facing projected budget shortfalls under commercial property tax reform, Gilmour said, the city needs to prioritize better and put amenities on hold if necessary.
"City services must come first, with the public safety a priority, followed by streets, sewers and garbage pick-up," Gilmour said. "Unfortunately, amenity projects should be the first to be cut."
Gordon said the city should consider consolidation of services where possible and pointed out a cost savings of 12 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year by changing the third-party administrator for the city's health insurance. Meeker said two-year budgeting has been helpful and that will begin again in January.
Perkins points to state representatives and the governor as causing the financial trouble and believes they should be lobbied to fix them.
All of the candidates rate basic services highly and want to continue to support public safety and infrastructure projects.
"The more livable we make Davenport, the more people will want to live here," Perkins said. "But there are some areas that I believe we need to continue the work of restoring."