Cedar Falls mayoral candidates debate key issues ahead of November election

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) – The Cedar Falls Rotary Club on Tuesday welcomed the three mayoral candidates for a debate at Cedar Falls Woman’s Club. Each candidate expressing their own ideas and addressing the public to try to win their vote for the next election.

“We can fall back on division or reach out and help each other and I want to be part of our effort to help us,” mayoral candidate Tom Blanford said.

“It’s the biggest community I’ve been to. I’m happy to have lived here all my life. I just want to make it better and better,” said mayoral candidate Dave Sires.

“I’m asking residents for a second term so that I can apply what I’ve learned and really take ownership of the mayor’s office and leave it in a great position for whoever takes the role after me,” the Mayor of Cedar Falls , Rob Green mentioned.

The debate began with questions regarding current Mayor Rob Green’s attempt to limit opponent Tom Blanford’s use of the city’s parks, where Blanford would hold discussions with the public. Green said he was neither in favor nor opposed to the city’s policy that would allow these restrictions to be made. Meanwhile, candidate Dave Sires has said that our First Amendment is one of the most important rights we have as Americans.

Mayor Green says decisions about parks could be made by the city and any issues should be resolved by city council. At Monday night’s meeting, council addressed the issue by developing a plan to require permits for events such as the “Talk With Tom” events in Blanford and also limit the use of permits by parks between 12 noon. and 8 p.m.

The main topic of debate was the public safety officer program and whether or not it should be eliminated.

“Firefighters and police are two different types of people,” said Dave Sires, At-Large city councilor and mayoral candidate, “You have to focus on one or the other.”

Sires suggests eliminating the program of public security officers, who have cross-trained as police and firefighters.

“What we need to do is divide the two sides, have them separate, get rid of the PSO chief and have a police chief and a fire chief,” Sires said.

Mayor Rob Green agrees with separate leadership but wants a slightly different approach.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask them to have both roles when applying for the job,” Green said.

If re-elected, Green would implement a plan called Public Safety Plan 22, which would require officers to come in as a firefighter or police officer and then be given the opportunity to train if they wish.

“And get extra extra pay for that. And every two years they would requalify for the role that wasn’t their main role,” said Mayor Green.

Green says separating police and firefighters’ supervisors would end up saving the city money, where his opponent and former city councilor Tom Blanford says it would do the opposite. Blanford says the separation of officers would require a need for more staff in each department, which would require more salaries. On the other hand, Dave Sires estimates that the separation into two departments would take several years, but will ultimately be beneficial for the city.

Blanford came with a different perspective than his two opponents. Blanford supports PSOs and wants the collaboration of firefighters and police to remain the same.

“This program works. It is effective. It allows us to stay safe and frankly question the commitment or effectiveness of these staff members as if they were not qualified to do the job is a bit difficult for me, “said mayoral candidate Tom Blanford. noted.

Blanford expressing his ideas by reflecting on where the department is now and how it can improve by keeping the PSO program in place.

“When you talk about recruiting and you look at our department now, our department is better equipped and more diverse than we’ve ever had in our community and it’s also bigger than ever in this community,” said Blanford.

Another topic raised during the debate was the reactivation of the Human Rights Commission and what should be the function of the commission after the resignation of several members.

Dave Sires said the commission should be made up of an independent group of people and not include anyone involved in city council as in the past. Blanford shared similar thoughts saying it should include people engaged with a full-time liaison to focus on the efforts of group members to implement the change. Mayor Green said the commission would benefit from continuing to partner with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to advocate on behalf of those who bring issues to the attention of the HRC.

The $ 4.5 million project to renovate the town hall was also the subject of discussions where Dave Sires was the only candidate to oppose plans to improve the building’s spaces.

The city’s zoning and parking issues were also discussed, along with whether trees should be replanted in Cedar Falls due to losses from recent storms.

You can watch the full debate on the Cedar Falls Rotary Club Facebook page:

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