In 2015, Luis Del Toro ran for a seat on the Dubuque City Council on a platform of better prioritizing city spending, reining in the city’s debt and increasing transparency.
He also said city leaders needed to do more to address increasing incidents of gun violence and drug overdoses.
Four years later, reports of gunfire have trended down. And when shots are fired, more arrests are occurring, thanks to responsive police work and surveillance camera infrastructure, according to Del Toro.
The city is retiring more debt than is added each year and the public input process has been modified to encourage more participation in meetings.
“We’ve made great improvements and progress, but more work remains to be done,” Del Toro said.
The 43-year-old senior program manager is running for a second term as the Ward 2 Dubuque City Council representative. The ward stretches from John F. Kennedy Road to East 32nd Street, and from the Northwest Arterial south to Dodge Street.
He will face challenger Laura Roussell, 62, a member of Dubuque’s Zoning and Resilient Community advisory commissions, in the Nov. 5 election.
Del Toro said he is running to maintain a heightened focus on community safety and to continue to advocate for city budgets that meet council’s debt-reduction strategy.
“We need to continue to look at continued expansion of our current camera system,” he said. “I think there are still additional neighborhoods that could benefit from them.”
He was the lone council member to vote against the overall budget earlier this year because he was dissatisfied with the debt-reduction trajectory.
Del Toro contends the policy is too lax, and that the city is carrying more debt than intended when council members kick-started their debt-reduction agenda in 2015. He said the city’s strategy needs to be more defined, with spending caps imposed to ensure the city meets its debt-reduction targets from year to year.
“Citizens can count on me to continue to be a strong advocate for them ... and continue to keep our fiscal spending in order,” Del Toro said.
He plans to guard against investing in a multimillion-dollar revamp of the Five Flags Civic Center “that does not provide us with a proper return on investment.”
“It needs to be an investment that lasts us the next 30 or 40 years, and be able to be viable,” Del Toro said. “The last thing I think we want to do for the community is simply build it out to a certain level that remains uncompetitive in the market, but then results in the city not only having to carry (an at least-$800,000-per-year subsidy), but now a debt service payment on top of it.”
Del Toro also said that he sees a “growth opportunity” with the city’s current leadership team.
“We can do better and we have an obligation to make sure the city organization is running fluidly,” he said.