Voters elect city leaders

Greer elected new mayor; Cahill joins incumbents Gowdy, Martin and Wirin on the city council

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Marshalltown voters went to the polls Tuesday and in two closely watched races, voted for experience and returned incumbents.

However, several up-and-coming challengers made their mark against veteran opposition.

Voters also endorsed the mayor-city council-city administrator form of government in the mayor’s race.

In that key contest, Second Ward Councilor Joel Greer defeated Gary Thompson 1,354 to 1,032 — a 322 vote margin.

Greer is a six-year city council veteran, having been first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.

Voters in the first ward are sending 27-year ward resident and veteran Marshalltown Community School District educator Sue Cahill to City Hall.

She defeated incumbent Dan Kester 162 to 68.

Kester was appointed by the city council by a 5-1 vote in April, to succeed the late Bob Schubert, who had served the ward for 25 years.

Ironically, Cahill and Thompson were two of eight other candidates vying for the seat.

The Marshalltown Councilor-At-Large race attracted significant interest, with five candidates vying for two seats.

But when the dust settled, incumbents Bethany Wirin and Bill Martin will serve another four years.

The two duplicated their one-two finish four years ago, with Wirin the top vote getter at 1,249 votes and Martin closely behind at 1,145.

Challengers Mark Eaton, 769, Brittany O’Shea, 763, and David Shearer, 584, followed with third, fourth and fifth places respectively.

In the third ward, Mike Gowdy was unopposed.

The popular councilor garnered 697 of 703 votes cast.

The Marshall County Auditor’s Office reported all four precincts in, but all returns are deemed unofficial until a canvass is conducted by the Marshall County Board of Supervisors in the immediate future.

Greer-Thompson

Greer, who highlighted his extensive community involvement and volunteerism during the campaign, 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.

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

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

At a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored City Council Candidate Forum last month, 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.

“I want to thank Marshalltown voters for this opportunity to serve as their mayor” Greer said.

“I will ask the council to respectively consider expanding the airport runways among a number of other issues. We will talk throught those issues at upcoming planning sesssions.”

Gary Thompson said earlier this year he was looking forward to the 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.”

The measure stalled when a large number of property owners strongly objected to SSMID.

Thompson also made an issue of the mayor-city council-city administrator form of government.

He said City Administrator Kinser’s estimated $132,000 salary could be better spent elsewhere, but made it clear he was not attacking her personally.

He also alleged Kinser “was holding the hands” of city department heads making $80,000 to $90,000 annually.”

Thompson once owned and operated UPS Stores in Marshalltown and Ames for 12 years before selling them as part of a divorce settlement.

He said he would use his business experience o help manage the city’s business.

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

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

Thompson said local ordinances are not being enforced (The city was authorized by the council last week to hire a code enforcement officer).

“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.”

Cahill-Kester

Cahill, a widow and the mother of six sons, pinned her hopes on her roots in the ward would make a difference.

She and family moved to Marshalltown in 1990.

The former Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center (now Unity-Point Health Marshalltown) had hired her late husband John.

The Cahills found a home and have lived there in the first ward since.

A Kansas City, Mo. native, she is in her 19th year of employment with the Marshalltown Community School District.

She is currently instructional coach serving several schools in the district.

In her previous 18 years at Woodbury, she worked as a bilingual kindergarten teacher and librarian.

She pledged, if elected to strongly represent the interests of first-ward voters.

Kester touted his business and management skills.

“I see the city facing more and more challenges, especially in setting budget priorities and balancing the budget in the years ahead,” Kester said during an April 3 interview with the council to fill Schubert’s eat.

Fast forward more than seven months later, and Kester, like other councilors, is closely following Marshalltown’s $50-million budget, because of mounting concerns the state legislature will seriously reduce, or eliminate the “backfill” allocation to Iowa towns. “Backfill” was installed by the state legislature under the Branstad administration to replace revenue lost as a result of commercial property tax rollback initiated several years ago.

In fiscal year 2017, Marshalltown received $435,345.53 in “backfill” from the state, said City Finance Director Diana Steiner.

Kester, along with other councilors has said it will have to make tough choices if the backfill is reduced or eliminated in the 2018 legislative session.

It is a real possibility of reduction or elimination, since state revenues have fallen short of projections, and the state recently borrowed from its “rainy day fund.”

Kester said he has learned “a lot” since becoming a councilor.

He had gained a reputation in his short tenure as one who kept a sharp eye on city expenditures with construction projects.

He also was proud of the fact he had 100 percent attendance at council meetings despite a demanding business travel schedule as Vice-President of Marketing and Sales at Marshalltown Co.

Councilors at-large

Wirin said she was “thrilled and humbled” to be re-elected to serve his fourth-four term.

“The city is moving forward in many ways, and I am looking forward to being part of it.”

She is a native who attended local schools before leaving for college. She and spouse Bruce Wirin lived in the Twin Cities for a period before moving to Marshalltown to raise their family. They have two children. She is executive director of Marshalltown Christian School.

“I want to thank the voters for returning me to the council for a second term,” said Martin, a retired school counselor and community college educator.

“I campaigned on a platform of trust and communication, among other issues,” he said.

Martin has lived in Marshalltown since 1971. He retired several years ago from the staff of IVCCD. He and spouse raised their children in town. He has been active in the American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, youth sports, and more. He had taken keen interest in the joint fire and police facility construction and costs.

Challenger Eaton was raised in Marshalltown and attended local schools, including MCC.

“We have a large incumbent group who are bored with their job,” said Eaton, a native and consultant who recently moved from Utah. “They 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.

Eaton said his skill set as an engineer and “logical thinker” would lend itself to councilor duties.

O’Shea said she was running so her children had opportunities in a city which is safe and managed effectively. Additionally, as a young adult (age 31) she considers herself and others her age the town’s future and a major asset. Third Ward Councilor Mike Gowdy identified the town’s young adults as keys to Marshalltown’s future.

O’Shea moved to Marshalltown approximately eight and one-half ago when her spouse accepted a job from Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls. She is currently president of the Fisher Elementary School PTO and has been active with the group the past four years. Additionally, her three children attend FES. She is active with “I Give a Damn about Marshalltown” organization which studies issues facing Marshalltown and formulates options for problem-solving.

With a good showing against veteran opposition, Eaton and O’Shea could be serious contenders for local elected office in the years to come.

Shearer is a native who served on the city council one term in the 1980s. He is a preacher (his words) at Marshalltown Church of Christ, has counseled small businesses and is a historian. He currently is volunteer chaplain for the Marshalltown Fire Department. He told the T-R he did not have “deep pockets” and would run a campaign based on meeting people.

“Even though I lost, I won,” Shearer said, meaning making incumbents and challengers think about how they related to constituents.

Area communities

Marshalltown wasn’t the only city to hold elections. Other communities in Marshall County fielded candidates for their respective mayoral and council posts.

Unofficial results include:

Albion

Mayor: √ John Henze, 28 votes.

Council (elect 5): √ Kim Dostal, 32 votes; √ Eric Eirikson, 31 votes,; √ Jordan Hinkle, 31 votes; √ Eric Schmidt, 29 votes; √ Patrick Hemming, 26 votes.

Clemons

Mayor: √ Chad Affeldt, 36 votes.

Council (elect 5): √ Cammie Voss, 40 votes; √ Tamra Muschick, 39 votes; √ Glen Leeper, 33 votes; √ Chad Weaver Sr., 31 votes; √ Tammy Hinders, 30 votes; Ron Wiseman, 21 votes.

Ferguson

Mayor: √ Dale L. Thompson, 30 votes.

Council (elect 5): √ Michael D. Good, 31 votes; √ Rick Burchard, 29 votes; √ Doug McKay, 29 votes; √ Glenda F. Thompson, 28 votes; √ Ellen McKay, 27 votes.

Gilman

Council (elect 2): √ Benjamin Fuller, 42 votes; √ Kathy Nissen, 41 votes; Kent Cross, 29 votes; Laurie Abramson, 12 votes; Josh Haines, 8 votes.

Council (one to fill vacancy): 26 write-in votes.

Haverhill

Council (elect 2): √ Katie Vogeler, 13 votes; 12 write-in votes; Toby Nicholson, 5 votes.

Laurel

Council (elect 3): √ Rusty Aman, 28 votes; √ Darrell Bartlett, 25 votes; √ Susanne Sietmann, 14 votes.

Le Grand

Mayor: Write-in votes, 39; Jay Wyatt, 36 votes.

Council (elect 2): √ Christopher Wayne Kadner, 68 votes.

Liscomb

Mayor: √ Hank Penner, 58 votes.

Council (elect 2): √ Blake Matney, 53 votes; √ Ted Gunderson, 46 votes.

Melbourne

Mayor: √ John White, 46 votes.

Council (elect 2): √ Vickie A. Stahl, 47 votes; √ David Gibbs, 44 votes.

Rhodes

Council (elect 2): Write-in votes, 37; √ Jessica Armstrong, 20 votes; Stephen Clement, 18 votes; Jerry S. Klosterman, 18 votes.

State Center

Mayor: √ Steven Sodders, 183 votes.

Council (elect 3): √ Brett Nichols, 191 votes; √ Lee Wilkinson, 158 votes; √ Terry Shaffar, 132 votes; Steven C. Lively, 113 votes; Richard Postel, 98 votes; Larry G. Carlson, 20 votes.

St. Anthony

Mayor: √ Sam Bryant, 11 votes.

Council (elect 5): √ Shawn Bryant, 11 votes; √ Duane Bryant, 11 votes; √ George Prescott Jr., 11 votes; √ Galen Davis, 11 votes; √ Dennis Bryant, 11 votes.

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