On November 1st, 2021, the Mayor of Iowa City, the Honorable Bruce Teague kindly accepted an invitation to attend the Central Committee meeting of Johnson County Republicans. The event was on Zoom and recorded.
Here are some of the questions the Mayor addressed:
QUESTION: Is Iowa City underperforming Coralville and North Liberty? North Liberty grew by 58% last decade?
Yeah, so we know that Iowa City has a lot of growth. When it does come talk about like Coralville and North Liberty. One North Liberty is in the is in a growth spurt. I mean, they are really being aggressive, and North Liberty trying to build their city over the past 10 years, which is great. You know, I think there's a thought process that you won't really be able to see any green land between Iowa City and North Liberty, in just a few years. Coralville, on the other hand, has been very aggressive and how they have been growing their community. Now, if we look at the financials of you know, Coralville compared to Iowa City, when we talk about how much we borrow, Coralville has been very aggressive, extremely aggressive. And actually I think that has worked for them. When we look at what they've done over by the what used to be the Marriott I forget what it is now. It just changed names, but over in that area. They've been very aggressive, aggressive in his work for them. In Iowa City, I still believe that there is a lot of growth that's happening in Iowa City. When we talk about who are the people coming here that the University, Of course, we, we know, they have a big footprint here. They continue to have people move here all the time. And we have people that really do want to live in in the city this summer. I don't know if you’ve heard about the pricing of houses. But it was very challenging to even get a house within Iowa City because the prices and very few available on the market in in general terms, right? I don't want to be too, you know, to estimate too much. But the prices were high because of the demand. And so what we know is that there's a need for more single family homes in Iowa City, which I think that the council can address. But there's also this need for more affordable housing, whether in Iowa City, and I think that we're going to continue to address those in the years to come.
QUESTION: A little follow up to that. It seems that people are moving to Iowa City. But the employment may not necessarily be there unless it's University. Things like Sycamore or shopping to the exact Sycamore mall or Capitol Mall that businesses aren't necessarily there. How do you plan to address that?
Yeah, so keeping talent in Iowa City, in in the in the corridor is something that's very important. What we know is that people graduate from the university and they actually move away. And we're losing a lot of a lot of talent from people that have invested time in this community. I believe that there is somewhat of a shift of how do we retain the talent, people that that know the community that know the heart of the community. And I think that that's something that the university is working on, as well, as you know, the city, we have a lot of partners in this community that need employees, you know, one of the things that I've found is that until someone retire out of some of these roles, or some of the professional roles aren't as readily available, you know, for some, some of the professions and so that has also been a challenge. You know, I've heard this is not really a joke, but where you have people with master's degrees working, you know, in jobs that are that don't require a degree. And so Iowa City is very educated, which is great. And I think we need to create more opportunities for those with higher degrees that really want to stay here.
QUESTION: So the next question sounds simple, and it is simple. But the answer might be that a complex: Conservatives tend to be happier than liberals. What can we learn from this?
Yeah, I, you know, I don't I don't I don't have an answer for that. Because I don't really, you know, I don't really play politics too much. I really believe that people are people and, and I let people do their own politics. I don't get into the politics too much. Yes, yes. No, I don't I don't.
QUESTION: Residents of Johnson County, pay more tax, that especially real estate tax than any other county in Iowa. Do we get value for our money?
I think when you look at the property tax, you also have to consider what is all being, you know, driven from the property tax because the school, you know, and, and all of that. So, do we give value for our money? I think when we look at when I look at, at least the city services, we have social services within our community that we use funds for. So when you think about community, which is the they have food, the food bank, and the crisis services that people get in our community, I think that's well worth every dollar when I work with people with mental health issues. I work with people with brain injuries and people with schizophrenia. I believe that those monies invested into agencies have really supportive people in our community. And when I think of Iowa City, I really do think of a city that did what they did to me when I first came here, they really wrapped me around their arms and supported me as a 17 year old to where I am today. I didn't have a lot of money when I came here and I have to tell you that I went through the system of being on section eight and getting food stamps and having your lights turned off and turned back on having your water turned off and I'm so grateful today that I employ 90 people. That is a gift and I praise God every day for it. And I also really thank the people of this community that allowed and that supported me through that transition. So
QUESTION: The next question, did we pander to the race rioters last spring?
So yeah, so this is one there was no riot. So typically what people? Yeah, typically what people call a riot is where they're breaking stuff. So, was there some vandalism? Yes, there was some vandalism. Yes, so, um, is it just proper terms? I'm sorry. Yeah. So I wanted to clarify that. So no, I don't think that we did, I think that we saw George Floyd, this entire nation and world saw George Floyd die at the hand of a police officer. This is something that the Black community has been talking about for forever and ever and ever. Now, some people may not understand it, they may never get it, and that's okay. But people are dying, black people are dying at the hands of police officers. And also, there has been this forgiveness, this overwhelming forgiveness by the public, where either they just thought, you know, that's another Black person that did something that needed to be, you know, they didn't get involved in it, I think is the real issue. I don't want to give a lot of reasons to that. So we saw this. And I know personally, I was grieving. As a Black person. I was grieving. And I also want to change, I wanted to see change in our community.
And I think what happened was, we had several groups that were out in the community that were protesting. And we have one group. That was Iowa Freedom Riders that was doing some things that I spoke directly against. I never wanted anybody to spray paint anything, I never want anybody to do anything that was outside of what is expected when you protest, we all have the freedom to protest is our first amendment right. And we should do that. But we should not be spray painted on people property, we should not be doing. I mean, as long as you are voicing your first amendment, right, that's what you can do that we were upset, get it on the freeway, that was something that I did not want done. I think there was miscommunication about me leading people to the freeway. And that was not a that's not true at all. And I can go into further detail about that. We don't have a lot of time here. But the point that I really want to leave people with is that Black lives do matter. And I know that that term, sometimes people don't understand what that means. It really means that we are in a community and in a nation, that oftentimes the Black persons have been marginalized, and they're not at the same financial level as the greater community. And I know this to be a fact, right. So what are some of the things that have done that? There was the redlining, where even in Iowa City, black people could not own a home in Iowa City? And so how do we look at the past history and figure out, you know, we, I don't have an uncle or auntie that I can call if I had a financial situation, whereas other people do. So there's this financial independence that black people historically haven't had my parents had their plate, my grandparents, I'm sorry, had their property taken from them in Mississippi because they would not accept the taxes. So, I mean, there are some real historic things that have kept Black people from being on the same level as the rest of the community. And so I don't give an excuse for the grief that was felt. Because it was real grief by the by the community. There's a but there was certainly some things that I did not agree with, and I spoke out very sharply against.
QUESTION: After 18 months of intense scrutiny can you give us one example of an Iowa city system that is racist?
So when I just talked about redlining, right? So the when we're talking about redlining, that's one part of it, but is not so much that is. So the thing about systemic racism isn't that I can point to some that were pointing to anyone and saying, This is racist. We're not, it's not saying this, this is racing is the system. So when we go back to redlining, and then people could not, you know, purchase properties wherever they want it, now, we are talking about me going to get a loan for my house, I want to get a loan, well, I don't have the financial backing to get, you know, the loan, you have to have credit, which I understand that that's something that we all have to be educated upon to figure out how we can get the credit on we also have to have the bank, you know, agree to give us the loan, and at a rate that, you know, can be afforded. And so it's more of the systems that have kept people regressed. And so that is what really systemic racism is about is not saying that this person or this is racist, is the system of all that has happened. I'm only talking about systemic racism.
QUESTION: So was the decision to have only one age BIPOC members appointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission a mistake?
Yeah. So I don't I think that the intent of the question is, the majority of the people on the TRC are young., and they're of the BIPOC Community. Yes. So I think the Council really looked at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an opportunity for the BIPOC community to really tell what their needs were, to really look at the issues that are within our community, also to have a safe space for people to engage, because we're going to look, because the challenge is really to identify, to hear the stories from people in our community, the BIPOC community. So there's this sense that there's a greater comfort level of having stories revealed to people that are within the same race outside or within the within the BIPOC community. So I do think that that was one part of why we see a I think that was a part of the process or the thought process. I also believe that the age part may have just happened. I don't remember anyone, you know, looking at the age and saying that, you know, we want to only young, there are older people on there, but I would agree. Looking at the assuming I can look at the group now there's probably a greater the greater numbers that force the younger side of it. Yes, but it wasn't intentional.
There are seven counselors that look at all of the applicants that come through. And I think that that, you know, we look at the applicants and, and figure out, and this is not only this commission, but every commission will look at what the talents and the skill set of each individual is and how we best believe that they will be able to add to the group.
QUESTION: There has been a sharp a very sharp increase in shootings inside the city last year, over 300 rounds were fired. Who's doing the shooting and why?
Yeah, so we know that this is certainly something that creates great fear throughout our community, and also is very disheartening for this to be taking place and in a city where, you know, I've been here since I was 17 years old, and that, that that just wasn't the community that I came to live in. And so there is a lot of questions about what has been what is happening. I can tell you that there's a lot of things happening behind the scenes, our police department and our detectives that are really trying to figure out and you know, all of this, to make sure that we are kept safe as a community, we're encouraging people that know have any information to come forth. To share that way, we know that there are some fears, and we're trying to figure out ways to really ensure that people aren't fearful to come forward to share that information. And feel free to share that information with the police. Um, so there's a lot of work happening behind the scenes, that, again, it would not be public knowledge in any situation. Because when you're talking about investigative stuff, they release what they need to release, when it's appropriate. What I will tell you is that there is a lot of work being done to make sure that we bring all justice to the lives that have been lost. I know three of the families very well. And that's a hard grief. Those are real losses that people have experienced. And there's a lot of work being done.
QUESTION: The police budget is unchanged for 21-22. Are we happy with our police force?
I am certainly. I've known the police force prior to me being on the Council. I've known them in various ways. I've known them through work with people with mental illness. Because through my job, I've known them for their safety checks that they've done with elderly people. I've also known them in personable ways where you call them and that they're there. I think when we talk about are we happy there is this sense of are you happy or are you set, we have a great police force, there is growth that can happen with the police department. This is with any department I work with people that are dying in mental health, you know, individuals with mental health, my staff, they're wonderful, they are committed. But I can tell you sometimes I say did you really just say that? Did you really just do that? So yes, there are things that the police department do need to work on, I'm so happy that we have some training for them. There's more training that needs to be done. But I also believe that there are individual stories that the police department needs to hear from the BIPOC community of, you know, how they may have been pulled over and how something may have rubbed them the wrong way, just by what they said, or by what they did. And so I do believe that there are some opportunities for growth. And I really believe that you can change all the policies, you can do all of that. But if those personal stories are not shared with the police department, where they can really understand, then I think we'll continue to be a little delayed. But our police department is I really believe that they are dedicated to learning and ensuring that they are being fair to everyone in our community.
QUESTION: Do you have any issues with the University?
So I don't have any issues with the university. I think that the university is a is a mega part of our community. And I am working alongside with the university there's a lot of issues that are happening at the university. Just last week, I co-hosted a meeting with Vice President Hansen on sexual assault. And so we are trying to work that work on sexual assault issues that are happening with the university and even in in the city of Iowa City. Drinking we know is a can cause people to be more loose and their activities. And so we've been working on that. There are other things that I've been working on with the university about. So there's a lot I mean, it's a big institution. So there is a great things about it. But there are also issues. And I believe that the city of Iowa City should be invested in other things that are of great celebration, but also of those things that we need to work on.