October 23, 2014

Former state lawmaker wins Cedar Rapids mayor race

A former state lawmaker will become the mayor of Cedar Rapids, as the city strives to recover from last year’s devastating flood. Ron Corbett overwhelmingly defeated his main challenger, city council member Brian Fagan on Tuesday. Mayor Kay Halloran did not seek re-election. Corbett says this election proves Cedar Rapids residents are dissatisfied with how city government responded to the flood.

“It’s been 17 months, still no buyouts,” Corbett says. “Very little of the local option sales tax is getting into the pockets to help the flood victims, so a lot of frustration.” Corbett got about 62-percent of the vote, which he says reflects that Cedar Rapids residents have had it with what he calls a “culture of delay.”

“This is about people, not about process,” Corbett says. “I put together a flood assistance plan that includes getting the local option sales tax out to the flood victims and starting these buyouts and holding the city government accountable for the buyouts. I’d like to start seeing a weekly buyout report so people can turn the page and get on with their lives.”

Corbett, a Republican, says the election was widely seen as a referendum on the city’s response to last year’s disaster. He says the city council needs to assert a greater leadership role, adding, the city manager has too much power. “We have some daunting tasks in this community to tackle but I’m up to the challenge,” he says. “I hope over the next four years, I make people proud.”

Corbett represented Cedar Rapids in the Iowa House for 13 years, serving five of them as Speaker. He resigned from the legislature in 1999 to become president and C.E.O. of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. He’s currently a vice-president at a Cedar Rapids trucking company.