Newly elected officials share plans | Mayor Green looking forward to ‘being just a little different’

Cedar Falls’ new mayor brings a bit of a different perspective to city government. And that may just be a good thing. 

Rob Green, the current city councilman who ousted incumbent mayor Jim Brown 55 percent to 41 percent last Tuesday night, is a librarian. “Having the ability to get information to the public is really important to me. So it’s not just the council itself, but I’m looking forward to being a spokesman for the city with a librarian’s mindset. That’s my professional training,” Green said. “I’m looking forward to being just a little different than maybe sometimes mayors are, where I’m not going to try to sell the public on something.”

Green said he believes that Cedar Falls voters itching for change were a large part of why he was able to run for mayor and garner the support that he did. To illustrate this point, he goes back to the origins of his campaign. 

“I first started getting asked about it [running for mayor] back in November of last year, and that’s when we talked about the public safety strategic plan and getting a lot more transparency around what the department was going to move toward.”

Did he always think he would win? “There’s no reason to run if you don’t think you’re gonna win. You always run to win, but I thought it was going to be a huge uphill battle.”

And an uphill battle it was, indeed. Not only was Green challenging an established two-term incumbent in Brown, fundraising reports that were released the week before the election showed Green being outraised by Brown by nearly three times; however, Green was right, and Cedar Falls’ desire for change carried him to victory by an astonishing margin.

But if you look back a few months, he wasn’t always so dead-set on the mayoral position. Green said, “I didn’t think that I could run because I really believed that mayor service and basically any elected office, whether it’s Congress or the state legislature, isn’t meant to be a career. It’s a temporary duty, almost like jury duty for a couple of years. You do your part, make the differences you can, and then you go back to your regular job.” 

Green said he wanted to avoid becoming a career politician, but that wasn’t the only career he was worried about.

He said, “I was just really concerned that if I were to run for mayor, I’d have to give up my job at UNI, and then what if I didn’t get reelected in two years? I’d be looking for work again.” 

Luckily enough for Green, a solution presented itself soon enough for him to run. “I found out in about March that there was a state law that allowed you to do elected office and your employer had to keep your job open for you.”

Green ran, and he won handily, but what does that mean for the city of Cedar Falls going forward? Green said that his first steps as mayor include leading a deeper assessment of the PSO program. 

“I really think we should have an outside expert group come in as a facilitator for building a five-year plan, something that may take six months or so for us to walk through.” 

Green won’t commit to entirely overturning the policy, however. “I think it would be premature to just jump in on day one and say it’s gonna be fire and police departments, no more public safety department.”

Green also said the city is planning on working toward making Cedar Falls more environmentally friendly, especially in the area of combating climate change. He said, “We’re currently working within the council on a climate change committee in order to see what sorts of direct actions can the city take in order to reduce our carbon footprint to be a more sustainable community.”

Another major initiative that Green said is worth exploring is transitioning the position of mayor to a part-time role. “I’m in favor of it [transitioning to a part-time role] not because of the cost-savings or that it’s gonna be more efficient. I think it could be just as efficient to have a part-time mayor, but my main reason for wanting to go that route is to make it less likely that the mayor position is seen as a career. I would love to see more people able to run for mayor. There’s plenty of qualified, talented people in the city who aren’t considering running because they don’t want to give up their day job.”

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