By Tracy Leone
Davenport, Iowa – On Monday, October 28, the Davenport Fire Association, Local 17, hosted a candidate forum at the East Village Theater in Davenport.
IAFF 17 had earlier hosted a forum for the five at-large candidates running in the primary election on October 8th, so this forum was held for the candidates in the remaining races in the upcoming city council general election on November 5th.
Attending were Jamie Woods and Kerry Tompkins, candidates for the open 8th Ward seat; challenger Carlton Wills (President, IBEW 145) and incumbent Bill Boom for the 3rd Ward; challenger Robby Ortiz for the 4th Ward (incumbent Ray Ambrose declined to participate); and incumbents Shelia Burrage (CWA 7110) and Barney Barnhill for the 5th Ward. Barnhill was redistricted from the 7th to the 5th Ward so now those two incumbents will face off.
The forum was organized with assistance from the Iowa Federation of Labor’s WIN program and hosted by Jason Roth, IAFF 17 President. Scott County Supervisor Tom Sunderbruch moderated the forum which he described as a way to better understand the candidates’ positions, not a debate.
Candidates’ names were randomly selected from a bowl to answer pre-determined questions, also randomly selected, on such topics as the budget deficit that faces Davenport once the State’s property tax rollback goes into effect next year as well as the city’s obligation to the fire and police pension systems.
There was some bickering among candidates on transparency in budget decisions as well as the year-long debate on the casino transfer from the river to a land-based owner. They also discussed how to best deal with the city manager who some have argued has exercised too much power over the policy decision of the city.
Toward the end of the evening they also took questions from the audience. City worker Ed Blough, Teamsters 238, asked incumbent Bill Boom to better define the 3rd Ward, which Boom had discussed earlier as hotels, businesses and tall buildings. Saying that the Ward is actually made of people, not buildings, and that most of those people do not live in downtown, Blough wanted Boom to better describe those parts of the Ward outside of the downtown that are blighted, where earlier in the day Blough had been filling potholes.
If you are interested in assistance in organizing candidate forums in your community for local races, please contact the Iowa Federation of Labor 515-262-9571.