A native North Ender and John Deere Dubuque Works assembler wants to speak for the residents of the city’s Ward 3.
Phil Atkinson is one of three candidates vying for the Ward 3 position on the Dubuque City Council recently vacated by Kate Larson. The top two vote-getters in the Oct. 8 primary election will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.
Atkinson was born and raised in Dubuque, right in the neighborhood where he and most of his siblings still live. He wants to bring the perspective of his family and their neighbors to the council table.
“A lot of people in the area don’t get heard from,” he said. “These are my neighbors. This is my family. A lot of the demographic down here is low- to moderate-income. They don’t feel like their voice has ever carried weight.”
He said one message those residents want the council to hear is street construction projects need to be completed quicker.
“My street is being used as a detour for too long,” he said. “People tend to drive at excessive speed. I have lost side mirrors, (and) my neighbors down the road have. I want to see the downtown area done with the road construction that has been constant.”
It isn’t that Atkinson doesn’t appreciate the work being done, he said. He thinks the upcoming plans for the Central Avenue corridor has promise.
He just wants city staff to consider the current impacts to residents as well as the future.
“On one hand, that can be a positive,” he said. “It could improve the neighborhood. It could also cause some congestion. It is going to cause a lot of headaches for a lot of time. Every time they’ve switched a street from one-way to two-way, it’s caused issues. People who live there get confused.”
Atkinson also said his neighbors are conflicted by the regular police presence in the North End.
“The downtown area has a higher population, so it is going to have higher crime,” he said. “That means more police attention. But a lot of people down here, on the one hand, it makes some people feel safer, but it also makes people feel targeted.”
To solve that, he said, the city could use more programs and events such as National Night Out that make residents more comfortable with the officers.
“That is a great way to associate the police with a friendlier face,” he said.
Atkinson also said he supports a change to allowing leashed pets in parks.