State Center city council race under way

Candidates talk water, infrastructure ahead of Nov. 7 election

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STATE CENTER — In just over two weeks, voters in State Center will cast their ballots to decide who will help lead the city forward.

There are six candidates running for three seats up for election on Nov. 7, and all had views on what they would do if elected to the council.

“I would like to take care of the basic needs of the city … infrastructure, streets, sewage system,” said challenger Brett Nichols, a cattle buyer for Agri Star Meat and Poultry . He said he and his wife have attended recent council meetings, and he found the process interesting.

Another motivation for Nichols’ council bid is that current council member Mike Riemenschneider is stepping down after the upcoming election.

“He’s given a lot of service and time over the years, and I just thought … maybe this will be the time and chance to put my toes in the water and see what happens,” he said. “I’m a person that will listen with an open mind, I like to listen to both pros and cons of an issue and try to come to a solution that would be beneficial to everybody involved.”

Another candidate challenging for a place on the five-person council, Larry Carlson, is a retired farmer and a 25-year chaplain at Harland G. Pfantz American Legion Post 122.

“First, I want to bring common sense to the government of State Center, Iowa,” he said, adding keeping taxes at a “reasonable” level is a top priority for him. “I think they (the city council) have to be more financially responsible to the property owners and residents of State Center … we’ve got to watch expenditures.”

Carlson also said he wants to bring businesses to State Center. and make the town a “handshake city,” and that he wants to improve streets in the city.

“I know it costs money to run a town,” he said. “But we’ve got to spend the money wisely.”

Incumbent candidate Lee Wilkinson said he wants to continue building on work by the current council.

“Part of my goal is to attract people to the community, and I think in doing that we need to take a look at our infrastructure” the Iowa Department of Transportation Administrative Services Division director said, adding the city recently hired a consultant to help develop street and infrastructure priorities.

“The other issue in State Center is, quite frankly, the water,” Wilkinson said. “For me, that’s been a frustrating issue, and we need to deal with it because I think that frustration is out there in the community.”

For candidate Richard Postel, being a challenger doesn’t mean he is inexperienced with city government.

“I just think it’s time for a change,” he said. “I’ve been there before, and it’s just time for some different people to be in there.”

A truck driver by profession, Postel’s first tenure on the city council started in 1990. After his time in city government, he said he has continued to pay attention to and give input on issues when he can.

“I helped accomplish a lot in the city,” Postel said. “We re-did city hall, the lagoon system; I was one of the firemen that helped build the Hometown Foods down there … I’ve done a lot of volunteering in this town.”

He said the city’s water system needs to be improved, as do many of the streets.

“I’m not afraid to ask questions till I get an answer, and sometimes I’ve very push-forward,” Postel said.

Terry Shaffar is another resident running for a spot on the council; the Alliant Energy field engineer said he wants to serve his home town.

“I’ve seen [State Center] grow, I’ve seen things come and go, and I think I would have a good handle on where we would need to go in the future,” he said, adding he worked 19 years as a city employee.

Road quality was one of the issues Shaffar mentioned, and he added that “the water is probably one of the more important issues that we need to get fixed.

Long-serving incumbent candidate Steve Lively said he has a lot of experience to carry into another term in office.

“There are some projects that I’d like to see furthered,” he said. “We’ve got street problems, as far as needing repair and taking care of; I think, also, that we need to keep our budget within reason and, of course, try to maintain a good tax base for the people.”

Lively has been a councilman for four terms, and said that experience from 16 years in office would bring “stability” to the council.

“I think I’m pretty open-minded, as far as listening to the people and hearing what they have to say,” he said. “I am retired, and I can go to city hall, which I do regularly, and see what issues are there or what needs to be discussed or talked over or taken care of.”

On Election Day Nov. 7, State Center voters will be able to cast ballots at State Center City Hall, 118 E. Main St. between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

For more information on city elections in Marshall County, visit http://www.co.marshall.ia.us/departments/auditor/election/electiondetails/2017/

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com