Who will seek office in 2017?

Incumbents weighing their options this fall

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY The Marshalltown City Council Chambers are seen here. Incumbents up for election this year include Mayor Jim Lowrance and Marshalltown City Council members Mike Gowdy, Bill Martin, Bethany Wirin and Dan Kester. Incumbents up for election to the Marshalltown School Board include Bea Niblock, Kendall Derby, Ben Fletcher and Michael Miller.

On Nov. 7, Marshalltown residents will go to the polls to elect a mayor, and two at-large councilors. Voters in the first and third ward will also elect representatives.

Of the five seats up for election, three incumbents have announced plans to file nomination papers, while one was undecided and another was unavailable for comment.

Mayor Jim Lowrance said recently he would take out nomination papers. “It was a hard decision,” Lowrance said.

Businessman Gary Thompson announced earlier this month he would run for mayor.

If Thompson does take out nomination papers, it will be his second attempt to serve in an elective city position.

Earlier this year he was unsuccessful in his bid to be appointed by the city council to fill the then vacant first ward seat.

At-Large councilor Bill Martin is undecided.

At-Large councilor Bethany Wirin said she will run.

Incumbents Dan Kester of the first ward and Mike Gowdy of the third ward have announced intentions to run for re-election.

Mayor

Lowrance, a retired bank executive, is completing his first term. He was elected with nearly 65 percent of the vote in 2013, defeating third ward councilor Al Hoop and Phillip Gavagnan. Lowrance received 1,377 votes to Hoop’s 640 and Gavagnan’s 105.

Lowrance was the top vote-getter for all elective city positions.

In reviewing 2016 accomplishments, Lowrance cited passage of the joint fire/police facility bond referendum to the hiring of a new city administrator to a housing boom and the ongoing construction of the $650 million Alliant Marshalltown Generating Station. He attributed progress to successful private-pubic partnerships, and in some cases, exemplary work of several city department heads, individuals, and organizations throughout the community.

At-Large

Martin and Wirin were the top two vote getters in all city councilor races four years ago.

Wirin received 1,377 votes, or 34 percent, and Martin 1,096, or 29 percent.

Wirin is the only woman on the council and is completing her third four-year term.

She is mayor pro-tem, meaning she assumes mayor duties when Mayor Lowrance is not available. Wirin and her husband, Bruce Wirin, have two young children. She periodically helps her husband in the management of his business, Edward Jones.

Martin’s stance has not changed since first asked by the Times-Republican earlier this year.

He will make a decision in June or July.

The retired school counselor and educator most recently served Iowa Valley Community College District,

Wirin and Martin have taken a strong interest in the budget, street improvements, and joint fire department/police department headquarters approved by voters in August of 2016.

First Ward

Incumbent Kester was appointed by the council April 10 to serve the remainder of the late Bob Schubert’s term which expires Dec. 31.

Kester, 50, is a former building contractor and currently vice president of sales and marketing for the Marshalltown Co. He won over fellow applicant Thompson by a 5-1 vote at a special city council meeting earlier this month.

Joining Kester and Thompson at the meeting were seven other candidates.

Kester told the council he would run for re-election if selected to fill Schubert’s term.

He will serve another four years if re-elected in November.

Kester told the council at the April 3 meeting his experience as a veteran businessman would be valuable.

“I see the city facing more and more challenges, especially in setting budget priorities and balancing the budget in the years ahead,” he said.

In 2002, Kester, a 1985 Marshalltown High School graduate, and family returned to Marshalltown after living in several Midwest communities.

Kester has served in a volunteer capacity for the Marshalltown YWCA-YMCA board, Night of Stars Committee, Downtown Treasures Tour, coach of the Central Iowa Scholastic Shooters among others.

Third Ward

Incumbent Gowdy is running for re-election after serving his first four-year term.

“I was open to stepping aside if a qualified younger person wanted to run,” said Gowdy. “I do not think that is going to happen. Additionally, there are a number of projects we (the city council) has started I want to see finished. Specifically, construction on the new joint fire-police headquarters will begin this September, and we will be meeting more and more frequently with the architects and project managers throughout the duration. The public works departments has a number of projects scheduled this spring and summer, and I want to see those through.”

Gowdy said it is important voters retain experienced councilors up for re-election because of Schubert’s death in February.

Schubert was the council’s longest serving member with 25 years of experience.

Gowdy is a Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls retiree who is active with the American Legion, having previously served in the U.S. Army.

How to file for city office

Nomination papers may be picked up at either the city clerk’s office in city hall, the Marshall County Auditor at the courthouse, or downloaded from the secretary of state’s website: sos.iowa.gov/elections/candidates/index.html.

Nominees must obtain 25 eligible signatures of voters. Individuals signing nomination petitions must be a resident of the appropriate ward and eligible to vote for the candidate and not necessarily a registered voter.

All candidates are required to file nomination papers beginning Aug. 28 and no later than Sept. 21.

Candidates elected will take office Jan. 1, 2018.

The mayor is paid $7,000 annually and councilors $3,000 annually.

For more information on the city, contact 641-754-5799, or visit ci.marshalltown.ia.us.

School board

Four Marshalltown School Board seats will be up in the Sept. 12 election, and at least two members have said they will definitely seek re-election.

“I always intended to run,” said board member Ben Fletcher, who was appointed by the board in October 2016 to replace Ben Stansberry. “The reason is really the same as what I said when I was interviewed for the appointment: I think public service is important, public education is important, I think it’s important for the community as a whole that we have a strong school system.”

He said he wouldn’t have put his name in for the appointment if he didn’t have the intention of running for the seat in an election.

Board member Mike Miller also said he plans to run to retain his seat.

“I plan on running again, I’ve enjoyed my time on the school board,” he said. “I think we’ve moved the ball a little bit.”

Upon being appointed to the board in January 2016, Miller found himself part of a search for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Marvin Wade. He said he has since been pleased with the job of Marshalltown Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte in the role.

“I’m pleased about Theron and his performance and the creation of his new management team,” Miller said.

Board President Bea Niblock’s seat is also up in the next election, and she has not yet made a decision on whether to run.

“I figure that by the beginning of summer, I’ll be able to make that decision,” she said. “There are just so many things I’d like to get done on the board.”

She said on item she’s focused on is the superintendent evaluation, Schutte’s first at the district.

Niblock also said the current school board is working well.

“The board we have right now is working very well together, they’re all individuals who are willing to learn,” she said.

Miller and Fletcher said one of the main goals of the board is the continued development of the district’s strategic plan.

“The amount of community input the school board has asked for and received on a whole host of issues … we’ve gotten a lot of public input on those things, and I think that’s great,” Miller said, using the Thoughexchange process, the hiring of Schutte and Phase II of the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse project as examples.

Fletcher said he looks forward to continuing his growth as a board member if he wins the seat.

“I’ve been interested in understanding the budgets and finances of the district, as well as the different programs going on at the school,” he said. “My wife and I plan to raise a family here, so we figure it’s best to get involved up front.”

Repeated attempts to contact board member Kendall Derby, whose seat is also up in September, did not yield any response.

The filing period for the Sept. 12 school board election is set for July 10 through to Aug. 3, and the voter pre-registration deadline for the election is 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1.

For more information on the school board, go to www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/school-board/meet-the-school-board/