Greer: ‘Proud of the people’ Marshalltown has hired

Layout 1

After nearly six years serving as second ward councilor, Joel Greer hopes voters will elect him mayor Nov. 7.

Standing in his way is local businessman Gary Thompson.

Greer said he became interested in the city’s top job when Mayor Jim Lowrance announced in August he would not seek re-election.

That was followed by a request from former Mayor and Lennox General Manager Tommy Thompson (no relation to Gary Thompson) to Greer he run for the city’s top spot.

Greer also sought counsel from spouse and law partner

Sharon Greer before filing nomination papers.

Lowrance will complete his term Dec. 31. He was elected with nearly 65 percent of the vote in 2013.

He cited personal reasons for his decision and also said the city “was in good hands.”

“We have a good city administrator and council,” he said.

In a recent interview with the Times-Republican, Greer said he wants to continue the town’s progressive path.

A Spencer native, Greer, 64, is an attorney and managing partner at Cartwright, Druker & Ryden.

At a recent Chamber of Commerce-sponsored City Council Candidate Forum, Greer outlined his plan if elected.

He said a key mayoral responsibility would be to “stay out of the way” of City Administrator Jessica Kinser.

He and other incumbents at the forum repeatedly cited Kinser’s initiative, skill set and ability to help carry out council directives.

Not a golfer, he has devoted substantial time over many years volunteering for, and providing free legal advice to 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 on streets and cost savings.

“I pushed for the Compost Center to be open on Sundays, and it is,” he said.

Greer said if elected, he would work to expand the runway at the Marshalltown Airport, which in his opinion would bring more business. He will again promote making portions of Church Street and Linn Street two-way from existing one-way.

His effort to do so earlier this year failed 6-1.

He wants to ensure the Central Business District has enough funds to remain viable.

“We need to make sure that group has the resources to keep the executive director position,” he said.

The CBD suffered a major blow last month, when a number of downtown property owners strongly objected to the formation of a Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District and stalled the effort.

SSMID is a self-imposed levy upon commercial and industrial property taxable value within a district. That is, a downtown building owner would agree to have the SSMID levy added to their costs of doing business.

The funds collected from the levy are restricted to improving the business and cultural environment of a specific district.

CBD said they needed the estimated $60,000 to $80,000 SSMID-generated funds to advance downtown improvements.

Greer was effusive in his praise of the work done by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee chaired by attorney Paul Peglow which helped convince residents of the need to replace severely dilapidated police and fire stations with a new joint facility under construction.

Greer has strongly supported the Iowa River Trail, a 34-mile multi-purpose recreational trail to be built on an abandoned former railroad bed from Marshalltown to Steamboat Rock.

He convinced a majority of councilors to expend $30,000 in city funds to advance the project.

“My favorite recent project is IRT,” he said. “When the county supervisors declined the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s offer to acquire title to the trail, there was little time to convince the city council to take title, form a non-profit corporation, apply for 501(c)(3) status and recruit 22 board members. We have raised over $4 million and have paved the first two of 34 miles.”

Another recent success is Marshall County Crime Stoppers, which has raised more than $100,000 to provide rewards for successful tips to apprehend criminals and most recently to install security cameras county-wide.

Greer is on the board of directors.

“Opportunities ahead include the Veterans Memorial Coliseum renovation, 3rd Avenue street and cosmetic improvements, ramped up code enforcement with the expected hiring of a code enforcement officer, continuation of the “Dangerous and Dilapidated” program, attention to the airport runways and hangars, installation of move safety cameras, and the re-use or sale of the old fire/police buildings,” said Greer.

——

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