© 2019 Grieder for Waterloo - Paid for by Grieder for Waterloo

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Issues

Waterloo faces several challenges that we need to meet if we are to ensure a bright, prosperous, and equitable future for our community. I firmly believe that Waterloo, with the right leadership, can be a great place to live, work, and play for all of us. I’ve outlined some of the pressing challenges facing our community. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have questions about these or any other issues facing Waterloo please reach out through email, info@griederforwaterloo.com or by phone, (319) 318-2125

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Investing in Infrastructure

Waterloo is an amazing city. The downtown is coming back. We have done an incredible job at bringing more housing into the area. But it is incredibly difficult to get around the city without a car. Public transit is minimal, sidewalks are a mixed bag, and biking is not always an option.

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Ensuring Quality City Services

Waterloo city services are stretched extremely tight. We have a fire station that starting in July will be staffed only through overtime. We have a library that is one hour away from losing accreditation. While being the 6th largest city in the state our library is funded at the bottom of that group. We have parks that see less maintenance, more streets that require greater resurfacing and repair demands, and a city staff that is stretched thin to provide all that we should offer as a city. We have seen city councils in the recent past prevent workers from being hired and place the focus more on politics than the actual priorities of the city. And it shows.

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Affordable, Quality Housing in Waterloo

Many families in our community struggle to find affordable, quality housing. Single family housing stock has remained stable over the last few decades, but without an increase in real incomes, many families have been priced out of the market. Many families spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing which puts them in a precarious economic situation. Rental properties, whether apartments or homes, have also moved out of reach for many families. Housing is a human right and right now that need is not being met for too many families.

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Focused on the Future

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Fighting for Families

For my family and thousands of families in Waterloo there is a very real struggle between the cost, the availability, and the feasibility of ensuring that our children have adequate care. It holds back workers, it significantly burdens families’ budgets, and access is increasingly rare.

Working for Workers

According to the latest ALICE report by the Cedar Valley United Way 40% of working Black Hawk families would not be able to meet a $400 financial emergency. That is a ten percent increase since the last ALICE report a decade ago. Too many of our fellow citizens are one car accident, one medical emergency, one unforeseen event away from slipping over a financial cliff. 

Investing in Infrastructure

Waterloo is an amazing city. The downtown is coming back. We have done an incredible job at bringing more housing into the area. But it is incredibly difficult to get around the city without a car. Public transit is minimal, sidewalks are a mixed bag, and biking is not always an option.

Ensuring Quality City Services

Waterloo city services are stretched extremely tight. We have a fire station that starting in July will be staffed only through overtime. We have a library that is one hour away from losing accreditation. While being the 6th largest city in the state our library is funded at the bottom of that group. We have parks that see less maintenance, more streets that require greater resurfacing and repair demands, and a city staff that is stretched thin to provide all that we should offer as a city. We have seen city councils in the recent past prevent workers from being hired and place the focus more on politics than the actual priorities of the city. And it shows.

Affordable, Quality Housing in Waterloo

Many families in our community struggle to find affordable, quality housing. Single family housing stock has remained stable over the last few decades, but without an increase in real incomes, many families have been priced out of the market. Many families spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing which puts them in a precarious economic situation. Rental properties, whether apartments or homes, have also moved out of reach for many families. Housing is a human right and right now that need is not being met for too many families.

Focused on the Future

Waterloo is going to move forward into the future truly regardless of what we do. However, we can make decisions about whether Waterloo, and all of us, prosper or stumble as we move forward. The city has for a long time pushed off big decisions and not truly come up with a long-term plan for what the city can or should look like resulting in uneven development, stretched city services, and difficult choices. We need only look at city facilities such as the two city pool stretched well beyond their lifetime , or fire stations that are closed half the year, or a lack of available, affordable housing in all parts of the city. This has contributed to some prospering while others do not often centered around socio-economic status and race. That’s not right, it’s not fair, and it’s certainly not the Waterloo we all deserve. 

Fighting for Families

We waited 6 months to get our daughter into a quality program and that makes us among the lucky. I know families who have waited nearly a year for childcare, relying in the meantime in an unsteady hodge-podge of childcare. I know people who have missed days of work because they did not have access to quality childcare. As a dad I know how much childcare costs, a lot. We all want the best for our children, but for many families childcare is too far out of reach for their budgets. It's not uncommon for families in Waterloo to spend over $1000 a month for two children. With wages stuck that is simply too expensive for too many families. This means that they either must rely on a makeshift solution or not join the workforce. 

It's not just child care. We know that fundamentally the first 5 years of a child’s life are critical to their development and their long-term success. And yet we do not prioritize those years for families. We know that family leave is crucial, and we know that preschool is critical. Sadly, few employers in Waterloo, including the city, offer paid family leave, and only 40% of Waterloo’s children attend preschool. We must do better. 

Crucial policies are needed if we are going to make Waterloo a place for families to live, work, and play in. Tackling childcare cost and accessibility is fundamental to that goal. In terms of accessibility we need to work with facilities to expand or open. When new employers are offered financial incentives to move to the area we should ask them to consider the childcare needs of their workforce and either provide childcare in their facility or work to ensure that more spots are opened. We can work with the state to streamline all of the paperwork needed to childcare providers making it more accessible. However, center-based care is not the only solution. Many families rely on a network of friends, family and neighbors to provide childcare. We need to work with the county Department of Human Services to provide accessible, affordable trainings for those childcare providers. We also should work with existing employers to encourage them to establish or expand childcare facilities for their workforce. As more options become available cost should decline helping families be able to make affordable childcare an option. 

We should work with local employers to institute family-friendly policies. And that starts by leading by example. We should implement a paid family leave policy for city workers as soon as possible because we understand that those first weeks together as a family cement truly deep bond and ensure the long-term vitality of our next generation. We also should work with community leaders, the Waterloo Community School District, and early childhood education experts to implement an Early Start Waterloo plan to ensure 100% of preschool aged children have access to high quality preschool by 2025. We need to build a pipeline of prosperity for our children and it needs to start at birth. 

 
 

Working for Workers

At a time when Iowa boasts the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation that is unacceptable. While unemployment has fallen wages have not risen respectively so we are working harder for less. In the wealthiest country on earth, in one of the greatest cities in that nation it is unacceptable that anyone should be denied the means to support themselves and their families. It’s unacceptable that labor should be stripped of their voices. It is appalling that we should deny workers a seat at the table, that we should put politics before people and that we would ever send the message as a city that we do not care about the hardships facing working people. 

The city should lead by example and ensure that every city worker is paid a living wage. Our hands are tied on making policy for private employers, so we should work to convince and highlight employers that pay workers a livable wage. We should not offer financial incentives to any business or corporation that does not pay all their workers a livable wage. We must honor the collective bargaining rights of city employees and maintain all permissive language in city contracts. I also would be a forceful advocate for workers when speaking with state lawmakers and will constantly encourage them to restore local control and enact greater protections for all workers. 

 

Investing in Infrastructure

I know families that spend half the day getting to and from the grocery store because of a lack of a personal vehicle. I know of students who walk through rain, sleet or snow without sidewalks in close quarter with fast moving vehicles. I also know that our infrastructure for internet access and speed, vital to a vibrant 21st century economy, is more reminiscent of the late 20th century at times. Our economy cannot grow if we do not have the infrastructure to support it. 

We should begin implementing the Complete Streets recommendations not just in new construction, but for older neighborhoods and areas of the city as well. We should work with Planning and Zoning to focus on how we can build up rather than out, knowing that the further spread out Waterloo is the more spread out city services need to be. We also must look into establishing or extending a municipal internet utility to ensure that all citizens and businesses have access to high quality internet. 

Ensuring Quality City Services

We need to begin the process of hiring enough full-time firefighters to staff Station 6. Overtime is a nice short-term fix, but it is not a long-term solution. We need to begin crafting budgets that focus on services with a priority given to front line services. And we need to make the case regularly that city services are essential and vital and should be priorities over other ideological considerations. 

 

Affordable, Quality Housing

Work with the Community Development Department to conduct a new Impediment to Fair Housing Choice study so that city wide policy makers can have the most up-to-date information. Work with Planning and Zoning to ensure that affordable housing is a priority, especially in low income areas. Work to fully implement and use the Waterloo Housing Trust Fund to ensure a source of funding for affordable housing projects. Work with other stakeholders, such as Hawkeye Community COllege, to continue to use in-fill sites to strengthen neighborhoods and prevent housing sprawl. 

 

Focused on the Future

We need to develop a new board or commission for the city. The first, a resiliency board that examines and plans for how the city could survive a large, city altering event such as a large employer leaving or a natural disaster. Most of Iowa was caught unawares in the 1980s by the farm crisis and de-industrialization. We cannot allow that to happen again. We know from the recent floods that we can and will be impacted in the future. We have to prepare.

We also as elected leaders need to develop, in consultation with citizens, city departments, and others, a Waterloo 2050 plan. Mirroring efforts of other cities in the region we nee to have a strategic vision for what we want Waterloo to look like, economically grow like, live like by the middle of this century. It should built upon our fundamental beliefs in fairness and equity, but should also work towards ensuring that prosperity is shared by all with the knowledge that larger investments may need to be made in traditionally forgotten areas. It should deal with all of the major issues of the city and should provide a critical framework for how we move forward. 

 

© 2019 Grieder for Waterloo - Paid for by Grieder for Waterloo