Burlington City Council Candidates Talk About Housing Problems And More


The public was able to learn more about the Burlington City Council candidates and their visions for the future at the City Council Primary Forum hosted by the Greater Burlington Partnership on Tuesday.

Mayor Jon Billups, Pro-Mayor Lynda Murray, City Councilor Matt Rinker, Mechanic Terry Schnack, Reverend Chris Roepke and Army Veteran Jeff Knotts all attended the forum. Burlington Express coach Antonio Bailey was not present at the forum.

During the forum, each candidate selected the submitted questions from a basket, read the questions aloud and had the opportunity to answer them. Some of the same questions were pulled multiple times by different candidates, but not all were able to answer every question.

When asked what would be his “favorite project” or his main reason for running for city council, Schnack told Public Safety, adding that he had heard from area residents who did not feel safe in the city. their own community.

“I believe if a person doesn’t feel safe in their home, they don’t feel very safe and good in their community and good things can’t happen,” Schnack said.

Jon billup

Responding to the same question, Billups said improving communications between city government entities, their partners, residents and others beyond the city limits would be its primary focus, as well as strengthening partnerships within the city. state and federal government.

“What’s good for West Burlington and the smaller towns in the county is good for Burlington, and vice versa,” Billups said.

Roepke shared his take on his beliefs that taxes should be spent wisely, citing concerns he has had with recent bike lanes placed on Madison Avenue.


When asked what role the city council should have in addressing the safety and well-being concerns of residents and visitors, Roepke said that while he believes the city has good police departments and fire, it is important that citizens be open and cooperative when problems arise.

He also said he believed the city should encourage more people to take advantage of the city’s parks, that the city could likely use a larger park on the north side, and that the city’s roads needed to be further improved.

Jeff Knots

Responding to the same question, Knotts said his main concern was the lack of residents in the area getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and causing local hospitals to be flooded with patients, hampering their ability to get healthcare. health.

Matthieu rinker

Asked about decisions that might be needed to protect city services or reduce taxes, Rinker said keeping the city financially strong was one of his top priorities.

Rinker also said that whenever he votes on a service, project or improvement, he takes into consideration the cost to the city’s long-term financial health. He said working to maintain a balance between the ability to deliver services and the necessary expenses is also among his top priorities.

Lynda Murray

Murray said that if Burlington could use attractions and amenities in a manner similar to Decorah to attract tourists and residents, it would be able to generate enough tax revenue to eliminate future tax hike needs.

When asked about his thoughts on the city’s proposed sidewalk improvement plans and approaches to improve walking and connectivity in neighborhoods, Knotts acknowledged that while there are sidewalk issues in some downtown neighborhoods, the problem is not the most pressing among residents with whom he spoke.

“Mental health, senior housing, these are the big things people care about,” he said. “Crime no longer seems to be a problem for people in my neighborhood.”

Knotts added that with a sidewalk improvement plan for residents tabled by council, he did not have enough information on the subject to make recommendations.

Schnack responded to the same question by stating his belief that good sidewalks allow residents to better interact with each other, but also conceded that he would need to see actual improvement proposals before making any decisions.

Billups acknowledged the city is still reviewing the issue, said it is still a priority for the city and said a viable plan to help residents with sidewalk issues is still underway. elaboration.

The only question the entire panel had a chance to answer: What would each of them do to bring more people to Burlington?

Schnack, Billups, Rinker and Murray all said the city could take more advantage of its location next to the Mississippi River and other outdoor beauties to help attract residents and tourists.

Roepke, Rinker and Knotts all stressed the importance of improving existing housing, with Rinker stressing the importance of affordable and suitable housing for residents of all income levels.

Additionally, Knotts said he hopes Burlington will receive some of the $ 100 million in COVID-19 relief funds recently announced by Governor Kim Reynolds for affordable housing to help repair existing homes in the area. instead of seeing the money go to new real estate developments.

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