The Ames City Council will be holding elections on Nov. 6.
Students have reason to pay attention because two of the positions are up for grabs.
Ames' Ward 4 position is up for re-election, which includes the Richardson Court Association, Union Drive and Maple-Willow-Larch communities.
"I've been involved in campaigns in the past where I saw the impact that students can have," said Andy Bock, one of the two candidates for Ward 4. "When a leader encourages involvement, the results will show up."
Bock has been a resident of Ames for many years, and said he thinks it is necessary to be aware of student concerns when running for a position like this.
"I know the voting history - on-campus precincts have a low turnout. I am committed to weekly opportunities," he said. "Every Tuesday I'm in the UDCC for an hour at noon to talk with any students that are willing, and I've had some interesting conversations."
Bock said one of his main issues is the current state of Campustown.
"Students are unduly blamed for some things there. Law enforcement officials are saying that right now it's transitioning to out-of-towners using the bars and causing problems," he said. "The community as a whole has to address this, and not just write it off as the students' fault."
Bock is running against incumbent candidate Riad Mahayni. Mahayni has been on the council for five years, and has an extensive history in city development. He said he receives lots of e-mails that call him the "voice of reason" on the council, due to his propensity to debate issues after other council members seem to have made up their minds.
"City affairs are not something you can take lightly. We are affecting the lives of many people," Bock said "We have to be able to be deliberate, and yet we can't study issues until they are dead."
Mahayni said his core concerns are issues of land and aesthetics.
"I was a professional city planner. I was involved in every step of the land use plan adopted here in 1997. I always ask myself of the cities I am involved with: 'How can we improve what we are doing?'" he said.
He also wants to get students more involved in their government.
"I have consistently voted in favor of getting students involved more. I voted for the Government of the Student Body liaison to the City Council, and for the Student Affairs Commission," he said.
Mahayni has an extensive professional history, from serving as the dean of community and regional planning twice at Iowa State to working as a technical coordinator for the city of Mecca in the mid-'80s. Mahayni said his experience in Mecca was very sobering and instructional.
"In 1983, there were 2.58 million pilgrims to Mecca. You have to take into account so many things: water, sewers, food, transportation, having people from almost every country. This is the city you plan for," he said. "It helped me see that many problems cities face should have been solved years ago, and yet the city planners must also think 20 to 30 years from now. That gap is quite formidable."
Another big position up for grabs in this election is one of the two at-large council positions, which are candidates who represent the entire city. The two candidates for that spot are incumbent Matthew Goodman and his opponent Pat Brown. Many students are familiar with Goodman's contributions to Ames, as he is the co-owner of Flying Burrito, 2712 Lincoln Way, and the gyro and Superdog stands. Goodman said he has realized the role students can play in these elections.
"For the last election, I can't imagine anyone who put in more time getting to students than me," he said. "I think that shows in today's City Council, which is much better at identifying with the student population than previous councils."
Hee said he always hopes the turnout will be better.
"The price for not voting is ending up in a situation where people hope for something, then realizing they should have taken the time to educate themselves in who can represent them the best instead of just hoping," he said. "Taking 10 minutes to vote is well worth it," he said.
Goodman said the idea behind his campaign is unity.
"I'm running on the concept that we can all live and respect each other's lifestyles in this community," he said.
Another goal of his was to increase response to community requests, which he feels is already better than it has been.
"It takes a while for people to realize change, but this is a much younger council," he said.
Since Goodman represents the whole city, he said he tries to see all aspects of the people that choose to reside here.
"During the last election, I found there are other elements of separation between the students and permanent residents. It's a unique role to try and understand the other side," he said.
His opponent is Pat Brown, an insurance agent with State Farm. She chose to run because of requests from other citizens.
"I received a great number of requests to run. They said that my decisiveness would be good on the council," she said.
Brown has been active in the Ames community for many years, helping with passing a retail housing inspection program and maintaining the sewer system, among other things.
"People here know my name, they know what I've done. My position is that we need to take in what's good for the entire city, not just special groups, and I think I can move this city forward," she said.
Her main campaign issue is improving neighborhoods in Ames.
"Data shows that the city is not bringing in enough jobs and housing for young families. There are also a lot of empty housing that used to be rented. If these properties are rehabilitated, we could provide more property for students," she said.
Brown's interaction with students in this campaign has been limited.
"I've only been able to work with the students in my own neighborhood, but I plan to campaign. Walking and talking, posting signs, attending forums, the whole thing," she said.
The final position on the ballot is Ward 2, which is most of northern and western Ames and Frederiksen Court, three hospital board trustee positions, and one hospital board trustee for a two-year unexpired term. The 2nd Ward has only incumbent Jami Larson running unopposed. Larson was unavailable for comment at press time.