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North Liberty City council candidates speak out

Annie Pollock
Please tell us a little bit about your personal background:
I was born and raised in Northville, Michigan. I first came to Iowa to attend the University of Iowa where I earned my Bachelor of Science, Certificate of Aging Studies, Master of Arts and Master of Health Administration. I have also lived in Denver and Boston. I am proud to call North Liberty home since 2010. I live here with my husband, Zach, and our two year-old son, Xavier. I work in strategic planning and business development at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.
My engagement in communities started in the third grade when I told my mom one Sunday after church that I wanted to help with the funeral luncheon committee. I have continued to serve my community. Some examples over the years include Coralville Fire Department volunteer firefighter; AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps 1,700 hours of team-based community service in 11 states, including disaster deployment with FEMA; Big Brothers Big Sisters Board Member; Johnson County Crisis Center food bank volunteer; and Special Olympics Coach.
I have had the honor to serve our city as a City Councilor since 2014. Prior, I served on our Planning & Zoning Commission from 2012-2014 and was appointed Chair.
Currently, I volunteer with other groups, including North Liberty’s Beat the Bitter committee, 100 Women Who Care Hawkeye Chapter, Johnson County’s Livable Community for Successful Aging Policy Board, Strategic Planning Consultant and Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership Program Incoming Chair
What are your strengths as a potential council member?
I am a wife, a mom, a strategic planner, a community advocate and a current City Councilor. Since I was elected to City Council in 2014, I had a son. That has given me new meaning to life and engagement in our community. When we talk and plan for the future, I’m thinking about what we need to plan today so one day he can raise his family here. I have had the pleasure of connecting with so many parents, especially those with younger children. What’s important to them? What opportunities do they see? So many people have located to North Liberty to raise their family, just as we have. I take this to heart during our planning and budgeting process.
In addition, I have an extensive background in strategic planning and business development through my current work in healthcare administration, not-for-profit boards and pro bono consulting. I have worked with individuals with disabilities, the elderly population and individuals with diverse backgrounds. This has given me a greater appreciation of people from all walks of life. I have been a voice for citizens and want to continue. This includes being a voice for other young families and the voice of all in North Liberty including residents, visitors and employers. I want North Liberty to be an inclusive place to live, work and play for all!
What is the City of North Liberty doing well?
During my first term in office, I am proud of what we have accomplished. I have included some highlights within my priorities:
Transparency in government:
Created a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process for our new police station. In the end, we selected a firm who is dedicated to public safety planning. They built the new police headquarters in Ankeny and Marion.
I strongly advocated for a special election this spring as I feel it should be the people of North Liberty who select their elected officials. I was out voted by my peers, but in the end a special election was triggered by the public.
Completed a Community Survey to solicit input from our citizens.
Strategic growth:
Strong population growth and growing tax base.
Several new employers, including small business owners, have been added to our community.
Money magazine has named North Liberty one of the Best 100 Places to Live for 2017.
Fiscal responsibility:
Since 2010, we have maintained our city tax rate of $11.03.
Moody’s Investors Service upgraded our bond rating to Aa2 this spring.
Public safety:
New LED school speed zone signs have been installed.
Approved building a new police station; a new water treatment plant, ground storage and additional wells; hired our first full-time fire chief who starts Nov. 6; use of fireworks remains prohibited in North Liberty; parks and recreation: This fiscal year, we will extend our 19-mile existing trail network by completing three connecting trail segments: Penn Street, Scales Bend Road and Alexander Way; added a splash pad in Penn Meadows Park; approved our new parks plan; allocate annual operating funds to create a dog park.
North Liberty has been honored with a 2017 Playful City USA designation for the sixth time, and one of only three cities in Iowa.
What does it need to improve?
North Liberty needs to be a place for all to live, work and play. We need to thoughtfully plan for a sustainable future. This includes strategic growth for residential & commercial. This is one of my top priorities as I want to be proactive and reach out to others to seek input formerly into our strategic planing process. This includes both internal and external stakeholders. We need to sit around the table and think of innovative ways to solve issues and plan for the future. I also want to collaborate more within the Corridor; including cities, counties and school districts.
Solon is one kind of small town. Coralville is quite another. In your eyes, what kind of small town is North Liberty?
Home. It’s a place where I moved to from Boston to build a family here with my husband. It’s a place where I’m thinking about the future; what do we need to be building today so my two year-old son, Xavier can raise his family here one day. It’s a place with a sense of pride and engagement from all ages within our community. It’s a small town that is growing to meet the needs of our residents and anticipating what the future needs will be. It’s a town I’m proud to call home.
What single issue would you like to see fully addressed by the North Liberty City Council in the next six months?
Transportation. This effects all people who live, work and play in North Liberty. This includes sidewalk accessibility and connectedness for walking, for wheelchairs and for strollers. This includes lighting along our sidewalks, trails and streets for safety. This includes our streets for bike and car safety. This includes public transportation.
Earlier this year, with the direction of our mayor and council, we formed an 11-person Transit Advisory Committee. This committee’s mission is to help shape the transit plan for the City of North Liberty. We look to this group for suggestions and ideas to improve our transit system. As part of this commitment from the council, we allocated operating funds in the budget to support ideas from this committee. One of the focal points of the Johnson County Livable Community for Successful Aging Policy Board is transportation and I’m looking forward to the City collaborating with this group. I think it’s time that we have a serious discussion with the other local and regional governments around what to do to maximize our transit services; looking broader than our own cities. During our discussions, it’s important to have subject matter experts at the table; including employers. We are all trying to solve a similar puzzle; let’s work together.

Brian Wayson
Please tell us a little but about your personal background:
My wife, Sheila, and I were married in 1988 and have lived in North Liberty since 1990. Both of us are native Iowans. I call Independence my hometown and Sheila is from Fort Dodge. We have three children, all who graduated from Clear Creek Amana High. One daughter is currently at UNI, one daughter graduated from the University of Iowa and is in Graduate school there and our son graduated from Mt Mercy University where Sheila and I met. I am the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Coordinator and a Hospitalist Nurse Practitioner in Pulmonary/Critical Care at the University of Iowa Hospital. Sheila also works for UI Healthcare in Diabetes Education.
What are your strengths as a potential council member?
I feel I have some strengths that are useful for city councilors. First I have been on the city council for several years and have a good working relationship with city staff. I have a good understanding of how the city operates and the current state of the infrastructure. I also am aware of anticipated upcoming needs. Second, as a councilor I have had the opportunity to work with other elected officials in Johnson County. I am the current Emergency Management Commission Chair and represent North Liberty on the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Third, my long residency in North Liberty gives me a unique perspective of how the city has grown, including the positive and problematic. This sense of history in helpful in repeating past mistakes. Finally, I am used to working with a team to manage complex issues in the healthcare setting. Teamwork and consensus building is very important as the city council works through municipal issues.
What is the City of North Liberty doing well?
As North Liberty has grown, staff and elected officials have developed a well-defined capital improvement plan, but it is flexible enough to meet unexpected requirements such as new infrastructure needs for schools and businesses. The financial status of the city has improved with increased fund balances which helped raise the bond rating and that decreases interest rates on bonds when borrowing money. The financial models used for budgeting have also increased in sophistication and accuracy. Additionally, highly qualified and motivated people have been hired in key positions such as in the police and fire departments, and the planning and building departments.
What does it need to improve?
North Liberty has been growing at a rapid rate. This has caused most of the energy of the staff and elected officials to be directed at managing the growth by planning, funding and implementing many projects as the need arises. The city is much larger now and becoming more important in the area. North Liberty needs to become more of a driving force on issues that face the local area.
Solon is one kind of small town. Coralville is quite another. In your eyes, what kind of small town is North Liberty?
Three of the top 26 Iowa cities in population are in Johnson County and are contiguous. Despite this they are quite different. Iowa City has a large university focus, Coralville has been encouraging business development, and North Liberty has been focused on being a great place to live which is similar to Solon. North Liberty has some desirable traits for business development such as improving access to I-380 which I believe will continue to allow expanded employment opportunities within the city. This will help North Liberty become a great place to live and a great place to work.
What single issue would you like to see fully addressed by the North Liberty City Council in the next six months?
North Liberty has been working on developing a transit program for residents with limited transportation means. This need is based on reports of local groups that work with social services. Based on low ridership, the city has not been successful in meeting the needs of the targeted population. Continued work on this issue and the willingness to think creatively when developing a concrete and effective plan a very important short-term goal.

Jennifer Goings
Please tell us a little but about your personal background:
I am an Eastern Iowa native and North Liberty resident since 2009. I earned my Doctorate of Pharmacy and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Iowa. Locally, I currently serve as the Chair for the City of North Liberty Communication Advisory Commission; Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassador; Director, Executive Board for Friends of the Animal Center Foundation; and North Liberty Blues & Barbeque volunteer. I am also active in state and national professional pharmacy associations. My professional, business, and leadership experience in addition with my civic work on the Communication Advisory Commission have provided me with the skills and interests in policy and strategic planning necessary to be a successful addition to our city leadership. I have developed relationships with new businesses, welcoming them into the community through my work with the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce. I will bring a fresh, independent perspective and voice to the city council and prioritize our next moves to align with the concerns I share and hear from other community members.
What are your strengths as a potential council member?
Leadership requires the ability to rely on several key characteristics to bring success to the group: the ability to engage key stakeholders, integrity to build trust and passion to enact a vision that supports the goals of the team, to name a few. In addition to these strengths, I also have a passion for learning. This desire to learn more, do more and understand more deeply pushes me to ask more questions, dig deeper and make independent assessments. I possess the aptitude necessary to transfer my education, training and experience to this new role. I have no doubt my abilities to collaborate, engage others, learn quickly and be an active listener have provided me the necessary foundation to be a successful member of city leadership.
What is the City of North Liberty doing well?
The city council has done well in maintaining fiscal responsibility. This is especially evident given North Liberty’s bond rating and absence of increases in property tax over the past several years. However, this has come at a cost of some missed opportunities but kept the city financially sound. The city has prioritized development of parks and trails, though has not yet followed through on several years of talk about a dog park, which has been highly supported by the community. Improvements in some areas of infrastructure – the water plant; phases of widening 965/Ranshaw Way, Penn and Kansas; and recent approval for a new police station – have also occurred.
What does it need to improve?
There is always room for improvement, and North Liberty is no different. In addition to needed improvements in transit, accessibility, and infrastructure, we need to see city leadership that engages with the community year-round. I attend new business ribbon-cutting ceremonies to welcome them to the community as neighbors and investors – something I would like to see our city leadership do for all local businesses. Our city leaders should be actively and openly planning and sharing a vision for our community for the next 10, 20 and 30 years. We should embrace offers for innovative partnerships with local resources to reenergize our overall future city planning. North Liberty does many things well, and with forward-thinking, collaborative and passionate service to make our community the best it can be, I will work tirelessly to bring our collective goals to fruition.
Solon is one kind of small town. Coralville is quite another. In your eyes, what kind of small town is North Liberty?
North Liberty is the kind of small town which can no longer think like a small town. We must think, plan, and act like the growing community we are. The tremendous growth this community has seen in the past 10 years has provided us with great opportunities, and also presented us with significant challenges. Much potential exists in North Liberty - in the people, location and sense of community. We are a town that values sustainable growth; strong schools; accessibility with safe roads, trails and transportation options; and a strong sense community for those who want to call North Liberty home. The identity of what we can become is within our reach; but as neighbors and leaders we must be asking each other - what do we want to be? What do we want our position in the Corridor to be? I want to be a part of shaping that identity, of working alongside our neighbors to uncover and address the gaps in our community, and celebrate our successes. We will reach these goals by leaning on and learning from each other, and leveraging our growth and resources.
What single issue would you like to see fully addressed by the North Liberty City Council in the next six months?
Accessibility is a significant issue that exists in North Liberty, without enough urgency behind resolution to the underlying issue of transportation. With the city council unanimous vote to end the bus transit option earlier this year and no programming ready to take its place, the city has taken a step backwards in accessibility for our residents, which is an unacceptable result. Reassessment and evaluation of programming options for public transportation should be a priority, especially given the added impact of the new GEICO facility and growing number of schools, including the recently opened Liberty High School. Though ridership on the bus system may have been low, it was under budget and met the needs of some of our citizens. In order to be an inclusive and desirable community that draws in and keeps new talent, and is livable for all stages of life, this issue must be addressed and resolved with permanent follow-up, evaluation, and reporting to city council.