Calls for change at city council candidate forum
More citizen and youth input sought
Editor’s note: This is the first of two stories on Wednesday’s city council candidate forum hosted by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce. The second installment featuring comments by five at-large candidates and third ward’s Mike Gowdy will appear in Friday’s edition.
Candidates for mayor and city council called for change in the way city does business at Wednesday night’s City Council Candidate Forum at the Fisher Community Center. Conversely, incumbents made equally compelling arguments their experience, in tandem with talented city staff has the city on solid financial footing while moving Marshalltown responsibly and progressively into the future.
Voters will decide who is best to govern Nov. 7.
The event was sponsored by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Greer and Thompson battle for mayor
When Mayor Jim Lowrance announced he would not run for re-election this year, he left open the door to the city’s top elective spot.
When the dust settled, two candidates had thrown their hats in the ring.
Statements expressed by second ward councilor and attorney Joel Greer and businessman Gary Thompson offered a sharp contrast on how each would govern.
Second ward councilor Greer is in his second year of a four-year term he was re-elected to two years ago. With six years of city government experience, he said a key mayoral responsibility would be to “stay out of the way” of City Administrator Jessica Kinser.
He and other incumbents repeatedly cited Kinser’s skill set
and ability to help carry out council directives at the forum attended by approximately 50 residents.
Greer said he plans to practice law “for four or five more years,” then retire.
Not a golfer, he has devoted substantial time over many years volunteering for a wide variety of civic groups ranging from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation to TRAILS, Inc. to the Central Business District. As councilor, he cited votes and personal involvement in several large city projects which resulted in a better design features for residents and cost savings.
“I pushed for the Compost Center to be open on Sunday, and it is” Greer, a long-time Marshalltown resident, said.
Greer said if elected, he would work to expand the runway at the Marshalltown Airport which would bring more business, as well as promoting making portions of Church Street and Linn Street two-way from existing one-way.
He was effusive in his praise of the work done by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee which helped convince residents on the need to replace severely dilapidated police and fire stations with a new joint facility currently under construction in the 900 block of South Second Street.
Thompson is associate manager at the local Earl May store and former owner-operator of the UPS Store on Merle Hibbs Blvd.
“The city is in trouble financially,” Thompson claimed. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and we need to enforce ordinances that are on the books. If elected, I will work to run the city like a business while reaching out to residents to get them involved.”
Thompson said the city’s change to a mayor-council-city manager form of government had not been good for Marshalltown.
“The most effective mayor we had was Howard Stegman years ago, before we introduced the city manager position into the decision making process,” Thompson said. “The city council, which is not accountable acts like a rubber stamp, look at the number of 7-0 votes.”
Kester and Cahill vie for first ward
Educator Sue Cahill is running against incumbent Dan Kester for the first ward seat.
Kester was appointed by the city council in April, after the March death off Councilor Bob Schubert, who had represented the first ward 25 years.
Kester was the council’s choice after a competitive process with nine others, including Cahill and Thompson.
Kester could not attend due to the previous scheduling of a business trip to North Carolina. He is director of sales and marketing for Marshalltown Co.
Cahill said she is running to “help move Marshalltown into the future.”
She pledged to represent the diverse populations in the first ward and its many working-class residents who were fond of Schubert.
Cahill, who has worked at Woodbury Elementary School for 18 years, said the school district and individual schools have similar challenges the city faces in terms of budget, financing and prudently allocating resources.
She said her skills in identifying alternative funding sources and working with people would make her an ideal candidate.
Questions asked of all candidates could be emailed to the Chamber office in advance, and written questions were also taken from the audience and collected during the forum and read by moderator Todd Steinkamp.
The forum was streamed live on the Internet by local KDAO-TV. Visit KDAO.com for re-broadcast times and dates.
T-R candidate profiles
Candidate profiles will run daily for 10 consecutive days in the Times-Republican beginning Sunday.
Additionally, the Times-Republican and Iowa Valley Community College District will host a debate featuring the five candidates for two at-large seats 6 – 7:30 p.m, Oct. 24. A second debate featuring the two mayoral candidates, and two candidates for first ward with remarks by the third ward’s Mike Gowdy, who is unopposed, is from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25. Both debates will be moderated by T-R Managing Editor Jeff Hutton.
Election day in Nov. 7 with early voting in progress at the Marshall County Auditor’s Office.
Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org