Davenport Mayor Mike Matson officially kicked off his campaign for reelection Tuesday.
In front of a crowd of about 40 people gathered on the patio of the Circle Tap on West Locust Street, Matson reiterated his pledged to listen to, seek out and be responsive to Davenport residents' needs and concerns.
"I need to hear what I don't know, right?" said Matson, who last month launched a series monthly of community listening sessions.
"I made a pledge when I became mayor, and people said: 'You're crazy. You can't do it,'" Matson said. "But if you call the mayor's office, I am calling you back. I'm calling you at the latest the next day. ... If you took the time to make a comment to the mayor's office, you're going to hear from the mayor. I think that's important. I think relationships are important, and you have to talk to people and hear from them."
Matson noted the city administrator and police chief meet twice a month with local representatives of the NAACP, League of United Latin American Citizens and others to address policing concerns and others issues around social justice.
"If we have problems and run away from each other, nothing gets solved," he said. "If we disagree and have issues, you come together and talk about them. Again, we might have tough conversations. We might disagree. But, we got to be talking. We've got to be working, and we've got to be try to do that for the benefit of the citizens of Davenport. And, I am so appreciative for your guys and so appreciative to be partners with you."
Matson too, highlighted the city’s financial health. Despite the financial challenges caused by the pandemic, city leaders avoided reductions in staffing and service delivery and dipping into city reserves, maintaining a 25% fund balance that positions the city for a strong recovery while also providing "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in assistance for small businesses and residents struggling to pay rent and mortgage bills.
He also lauded city officials' speed and efficiency in negotiating successful contracts with the city's four collective bargaining units providing increased pay for city workers, including police and firefighters.
"We still believe in and value our employees," Matson said.
"As we all know, (the pandemic) kicked our butt a little bit," he said. "We're coming out of it. Davenport's in a great position. We're in a great position to recover because of our planning and our budget, but it was very important to take care of our employees and make sure folks have assistance from the city to do that. And we'll continue to work through that."
Scott County activist and Davenport native Athena Gilbraith has announced she also will run for mayor in the fall city election, launching a campaign focused on racial and social justice.
Matson previously served on Davenport’s City Council for more than a decade before defeating former City Council member Rita Rawson to replace then-outgoing Mayor Frank Klipsch in the November 2019 city election.
Davenport resident and campaign supporter Deb Goodall said she's concerned about a recent surge in gun violence but praised Matson for working with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to send state troopers and state crime analysts to assist Davenport police.
"We'd all like a quicker response, but I think that fact that he's reached out to the governor and asked for some assistance I think it a good thing," Goodall said. "I think it's a big problem every city has, but I think he's handling it the best he can right now."