DAVENPORT, Iowa -- She ran three years ago for alderman of the 5th ward and won. Rita Rawson says she had set her sights on the mayorship long before Mayor Frank Klipsch announced he wouldn't run again, though the fact that he wasn't going for a second term still came as a surprise to her and others.
"I’m not originally from Davenport, I chose to live here," she told the audience of a recent mayoral forum at St. Ambrose University.
As Alderman of the 5th ward, Rita Rawson ran on a campaign of urban revitalization. She told News 8 her campaign for Davenport Mayor is a continuation of what she has been doing, efforts she has supported like the Davenport DREAM, a city project that provides homeowners grants for repairs and upgrades. The program began this July 1.
She says as mayor she could do more: "I have a vision for what the city could be, and part of that vision is dealing with some our older neighborhoods and the issues that are found there, such as abandoned, boarded-up housing, the alleys, streets, brick roads."
She says the city's old neighborhoods are hidden gems that need to uncovered.
"We also have a lot of brick streets. Uncovering our lattice work of brick streets would be very beautiful, if you can imagine, south of Locust, in a truly visionary way, all the streets being brick."
Coupled with commercial development, she says, it would help raise Davenport's stagnant population numbers.
"So there’s really three areas of Davenport I'd like to focus on: one is Rockingham Road, second is Locust, and third is Brady/Harrison corridor. All three are embedded in good communities, but commercial development has been lagging. There's some things we could package together to just provide incentives to businesses, either currently in the city to expand to these areas, or new businesses coming in from the outside to relocate there."
Rawson says she wants to build something big by the river: "Something that’s exciting, that would bring people to the river, like a pier. I think a pier, a multi-level pier, would be fun, would engage people."
Though she acknowledges that flood mitigation would need to be dealt with first: "I think our flood plan will more than likely need to be a variety of answers."
Rawson says that the city is a at a crossroads, and that with her approach, it can be a magnet for new residents.
The Davenport primary election is next Tuesday, October 8, 2019. The top two vote-getters will advance to the general election in November.
Check out the full interview below: