Thompson: ‘We need to enforce’ the city’s ordinances

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Marshalltown mayoral candidate Gary Thompson is looking forward to the Nov. 7 election.

“This will be an easy vote for the residents of Marshalltown, because they will have clear choice between me and my opponent Joel Greer,” he said. “I was against the the Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District, and he was for it, among other things we disagree.”

SSMID was proposed earlier this year by the Central Business District, a not-for-profit business development organization. Had it been enacted by the city council, it would have placed a self-imposed levy upon commercial and industrial property in the central business district and surrounding areas. It would have generated an extra $60,000 to $80,000 in funds CBD said it needed to advance downtown initiatives. However, SSMID would have been an extra cost of doing business on each property owner.

The measure stalled when a large number of property owners strongly objected to SSMID. It was withdraw by the CBD last month.

Thompson, 59, is no relation to former Mayor and Lennox Manufacturing General Manager Tommy Thompson.

Candidate Thompson once owned and operated UPS Stores in Marshalltown and Ames for 12 years.

Those businesses were sold last year as part of a divorce settlement, he said.

However Thompson said he would use his business experience gained at UPS and elsewhere to help manage the city’s business.

“Our UPS Store was in the smallest market of all the the stores in Iowa,” he said. “And for four of the 12 years we owned it, it was the No. 1 grossing store in Iowa. That is a testament to my staff, and to our customers.”

Thompson announced his mayoral candidacy at at a special city council meeting in early April. The purpose of which was the city council to select one of 10 applicants — of which Thompson was one — to complete the term of the late First Ward Councilor Bob Schubert, 78, who died in March.

First Ward Councilor Dan Kester was selected over Thompson by a 5-1 vote after councilor input and extended discussion.

Fast forward six months, and candidate Thompson is running a grassroots campaign.

“My goal is to place campaign literature-on every resident’s door within the next 15 days.”

He recently quit a job as associate manager at a local business to devote his time to the mayoral race.

His platform consists of ordinance enforcement, fiscal responsibility and a “work here, live here initiative.”

Thompson said local ordinances are not being enforced (The city recently hired a code enforcement officer after posting the position some time ago).

“If we are going to clean up Marshalltown, and make it attractive to outsiders … as a city we do not need to spend money … we just need to enforce the ordinances on the books … a positive change will result. The problem is, ordinances have not been enforced religiously for years. That is the smallest thing we can do, for the biggest payback.”

His second plank is fiscal responsibility. For example, Thompson alleged the council approved by vote of 7-0 this year to install a six-stall parking lot in the Timber Creek Recreation Area in the 600 block of Southridge costing $68,000. “There was already a parking lot on the park property,” he claimed. “We spent that amount in a park which does not need it. (If elected as mayor) I do not have a vote, but I can veto wasteful spending … and I will if necessary. I understand the council can bring it back a second time and I cannot veto it again. I am going to put the pressure back on the council … the council will need to justify every dollar we spend … we work for the taxpayers.”

His third plank is to induce employees of Marshalltown employers who drive in from Ames, Ankeny, Bondurant and elsewhere to live in Marshalltown.

“People say we have a housing shortage,” said Thompson. “I think it is deeper than that, we need to figure out why people who work in Marshalltown do not live here. We need to figure a way to draw them in. I am not sure how to accomplish that.”

(Marshall Economic Development has cited studies which say the lack of housing costing approximately $200,000 is a key reason why many commute in).

“I am passionate about Marshalltown,” said Thompson. “Our family moved from Colorado to Marshalltown because we wanted to raise our two children here. (They are now adults). I could have moved anywhere after I sold my UPS stores, but I remained.”

Thompson is a Marshalltown High School, and Marshalltown Community College graduate. He received his bachelor’s degree in housing at Iowa State University and is a U.S. Army veteran.

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