1st Black Iowa Mayor Reelected, Defeats Pro-Police Opponent

Quentin Hart, Mayor of Waterloo, Iowa, celebrated his reelection on Tuesday by dancing with supporters to “This Is How We Do It’’ by Montell Jordan. Last summer, critics used a video of him lip syncing the song and called him a “wannabe rapper” to discredit his campaign; this year it’s his victory anthem.

This is Hart’s fourth term in office since winning an election as the city’s first Black mayor in 2015. The 2021 election also made history in the city of Waterloo with the formation of the first majority Black city council in a town where less than 17 percent of the population is Black, the Star Tribune reports. Black candidates Rob Nichols, John Chiles, and Nia Wilder have now joined the council making four out of seven council members Black.

“Yes they are African Americans, but they are incredible, smart and talented, and they have something to offer to the city. The expectations are high,” Hart said about the new city council members, according to the Tribune.

This election wasn’t as easy as the last two for which Hart ran unopposed. This time, the mayor faced ire from the pro-police group and political action committee, Cedar Valley Backs the Blue, which supported his opponent Margaret Klein. There was also a third challenger that joined the race pretty late named Sophia Mays, according to KWWL.

The group, which was formed by retired officers, criticized the city’s decision to remove the police department’s longtime emblem — a mythical winged creature known as a griffin that had adorned officers’ uniforms since the 1960s.

Critics said the emblem had long evoked fear and distrust in the Black community given its resemblance to a Ku Klux Klan dragon. Those who wanted to keep the emblem, including the police union, said it was a symbol of vigilance and not rooted in racism.

The group also argued that morale among officers was at an all-time low, noting that some had resigned to take other jobs and blaming Fitzgerald, who previously served as the police chief in Fort Worth, Texas. Since taking the Waterloo job, Fitzgerald has changed many department policies in an effort to improve relations between the police and the community and to hold officers to higher standards. Fitzgerald called the attacks racially-motivated.

Hart was known for defending Fitzgerald’s commitment to community based policing and the police chief’s absence while dealing with family emergencies.

KWWL reports that the group posted “The people of Waterloo have spoken! Time to move forward!” on their Facebook page.

Hart won 58 percent of the votes, Klein received 41 percent and the third candidate, Mays, received only 1 percent.

“I congratulate the mayor on his win,” Klein said when she conceded, according to KWWL. “I appreciate the support I have received from the voters in the community and I was happy to give the voters a choice for the first time since 2015.”

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