Eaton: ‘Marshalltown is strong, it has been through a lot’

If some local residents — or opponents — think city council at-large candidate Mark Eaton is a one issue candidate — concerned only with his brother’s petition to sever his property from the city — they need to re-evaluate.

Candidate Eaton said he is justifiably concerned about his brother Monte Eaton’s case, claiming the city’s has spent $24,000 to fight the case, with more expenditures to follow (Monte Eaton and spouse Leisha Eaton are one of two property owners involved in a 10-month fight with the city to sever their property. The Eatons, along with James and Susan Gruening, have claimed they are paying city taxes but are not receiving city services, a claim the city strongly denies).

But as a result of last week’s Chamber of Commerce City Council Candidate Forum and campaigning — Mark Eaton might be getting attention from, and his comments resonating with voters.

He has questions and concerns about a host of issues ranging from fiber optics to the storm water run-off fee to city council incumbents.

He brings a unique perspective.

He was born in Los Angeles, but came to Marshalltown as an infant when his parents moved.

His late father, Darrell Eaton, was a local businessman and former city councilor.

Mark Eaton attended local schools, including Marshalltown Community College, where he earned a degree in drafting.

He worked in Ames for three years before heading west to Brigham Young University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and later, a master’s degree in business administration.

He moved back to Marshalltown approximately two years ago after living in Utah where he managed successful business and consulting ventures.

“I am here to stay,” he said.

As a businessman, consultant and property owner, he is concerned about the city council and a number of issues impacting the city.

He is confident in knowing his engineer’s mind-set “the logic in me” would make him an asset on the council.

“We have a large incumbent group who are bored with their job,” a comment he made at the Chamber forum last week and one he repeated recently to the Times-Republican.

“We have a couple of council members who have one foot out the door,” he said. “I do not think that is fair to townspeople … the councilors are moving the city’s monies around and committing the city to a certain path they are not going to be around for … they are not vested in the outcome.”

Eaton wants to see more participation from residents but thinks current city policies stifle their voices.

He made that clear at the Chamber of Commerce Forum.

“They (the council) want more participation from people but recently approved a council manual which makes it harder to have a discussion in front of the council,”

Eaton said the previous policy was more citizen-friendly allowing for good discussion.

“They (the council) did not like that,” he said. “Now, as a citizen, you get up and state what you want … and they get up and rebut you and there is no more discussion … that is it. That is the change.”

Eaton was also critical of the council for initiating miscellaneous fees, specifically one for storm water runoff.

“People are fixed incomes are telling me they are concerned … they are saying, what happened to my water bill? Fees increased 12 percent this year and will increase 12 percent next year.”

He also was a critic of the recently proposed Self-Sustaining Municipal Improvement District.

It was an initiative proposed by the Central Business District whereby businesses would allow a special levy levy imposed on themselves.

It would have meant another cost of doing business.

However, a significant number of downtown property owners were against it and it stalled.

“You cannot tax your way to prosperity,” he said.

Looking toward the future Mark Eaton wants to see more fiber optics installed.

“The town (in Utah) I moved from had a significant network of fiber-optics, and it was the backbone of the community,” he said.

Mark Eaton’s business is linked to the Heart of Iowa fiber-optic system.

“I sell supplies for computerized-mat cutters all over the world from my little box on the south end of town on an Internet connection,” he said. “If downtown had a good fiber-optic network through it, I could see an investment.”

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com