Council candidates discuss Campustown during forum

Paige Godden —

City Council candidates explained their stances on revitalizing Campustown at a forum hosted by the Government of the Student Body on Monday.

“Campustown is a priority of everyone,” said Mayor Ann Campbell.

Because Campustown is a priority to the community, it offers an opportunity for the Council, GSB and other organizations to work together to revitalize the area, Campbell said.

“Campustown should be a showcase for the university,” said Peter Orazem, professor of economics, running for the at-large seat.

Mike Miller, who is also campaigning for the at-large seat, said the Campustown Action Association needs to come to fruition to help the area.

“If we could bring together business owners with students and city council this could help the area,” Miller said.

Cleaning the sidewalks and trimming trees in Campustown were other ideas that Miller suggested.

“I would love to see more retail and a grocery store,” said Brian McLain, third-ward seat candidate.

Mike Murray, candidate for the third-ward seat, said while it would be nice to bring in a more diverse group of businesses to Campustown, they can’t ensure that all will survive.

“It would be great to say we need a different spread of businesses, but the businesses that stay are the businesses that are making money,” Murray said.

Councilman Ryan Doll, running for re-election to his third-ward seat, said the city needs to “look at its past” when considering Campustown revitalization.

“We lost a bus route, we lost a McDonald’s, we lost 5,000 people living at the end of Welch Avenue,” Doll said. “We can help it look better, and we need to work on relationships.”

Tom Wacha, running for a seat in the first ward, had an idea to bring in a pedestrian mall.

“Campustown is the part of Ames with the most unrealized potential,” Wacha said. “I would love to see Welch turn into a pedestrian mall with trees where the road is.”

Wacha also said he would like to see a venue catered to students who are either underage or choose not to drink.

GSB’s second question asked which areas Ames can improve upon to help make it a better place for ISU students.

“We need to make students feel welcome,” said Jeremy Davis, running for the third-ward seat.

Miller said establishing a tenant landlord association would allow students to have increased representation in rent-related issues.

He said the association would act as an overseer for student-leaser relations.

An audience member posed a question about changing the old Varsity Theatre into a student cinema.

The candidates agreed that it would be a great thing for students, but the city shouldn’t have to foot the bill.

Another question from the audience was about the city keg ordinance, which Campbell said was initiated following the Veishea celebration of 1988 “when multiple kegs were tapped with no control.”

“We in Ames are in desperate fear that someone somewhere is having a good time,” Orazem said.

The next question asked how the candidates plan to attract companies to Ames.

Incumbent Councilman Dan Rice, also an academic advisor for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said city grants are available for businesses, while Doll said development of the proposed 400-acre Industrial Park in east Ames is crucial.

“What we can do to make Ames better for families and seniors will make it better for students as well,” Campbell said.