Four days after beating seven-term incumbent Marcia Higgins in the August Democratic primary, Jack Eaton sat in his kitchen enjoying his coffee and his victory. After two unsuccessful campaigns against Margie Teall, he'd crushed Higgins two-to-one, and is unopposed in November.
If Republican-turned-independent Jane Lumm survives a challenge from Democrat Kirk Westphal, Eaton's election will tip the balance on council. After a decade when most members were more or less supportive of mayor John Hieftje, Eaton would join Lumm and Democrats Mike Anglin, Sumi Kailasapathy, Sally Petersen, and Steve Kunselman--who held off challenger Julie Grand in August--to form a new majority that is skeptical, at best, of the mayor's initiatives.
Eaton campaigned against what he calls the mayor's misplaced priorities, currently represented by his ambition to build a new train station. Eaton says his own top priority will be to hire more firefighters and police officers. In his campaign, he also pledged to address "our sump pump flooding problems and the damage that city-mandated installation has done to homes." He's vague on just what damage disconnecting residential footing drains from the city's sanitary sewers might have caused, but says, "if a sump pump has done harm, the city needs to take it out and clean up the basement." Instead of disconnecting footing drains, he argues, the city should "increase the [capacity of the] wastewater system."
Eaton says he'd pay for the new staff by redirecting "a fair portion" of increased property tax collections to public safety. If that's not enough, he adds, he'd vote to "use the DDA's growing revenues. Look at all the new student high-rises downtown: there will be more money coming--unless they [the developers] go bankrupt."
[Originally published in September, 2013.]