2nd ward candidates talk issues

At Chamber forum

T-R PHOTO By MIKE DONAHEY Second ward city council candidate Brittany O’Shea, fourth from left, answers a question posed by the moderator at the Marshalltown Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum Tuesday night at the Iowa Veterans Home. Looking on from left are fellow candidates Leigh Bauder, Jay Carollo, Gabe Isom and Bob Untiedt. The special election to fill the seat is Feb. 27.

The five candidates running for the Ward 2 seat — Bob Untiedt, Brittany O’Shea, Gabe Isom, Jay Carollo and Leigh Bauder figuratively laid their cards on the table before residents at a Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored forum Tuesday night.

Ranging in ages from 28 to 66, the candidates have backgrounds and work histories as varied as Marshalltown.

The setting, fittingly, was in the second ward’s Malloy Leisure Hall on the campus of the Iowa Veterans Home.

The one-hour session was open to the public.

And, approximately 45 residents took advantage of the opportunity to hear the candidates stake their positions on a variety of issues with Feb. 27 election day closing fast.

Chamber Executive Director Lynn Olberding served as moderator, posing questions ranging from what candidates hoped to accomplish, to second ward and community priorities, to efforts promoting Marshalltown.

Improved communication about city government with second ward residents specifically, and Marshalltown residents in general, was a constant theme expressed by all.

Many people are not comfortable going to a city council meeting, and having to go to the lectern to state their name and address,” said Untiedt.

Closely following was improved housing opportunities as well as being wise stewards of city finances.

“In respect to communication, the first goal would be to not only work in the ward, but throughout the city,” said Bauder, a local business woman who specializes in insurance. “I have talked to individuals who think Marshalltown does not care, and I want to get out the message Marshalltown does care.”

Bauder followed up that she is extremely concerned about the city’s debt.

“Looking at the debt, I think we need some fiscal responsibility,” she said. “I have a strong budgeting background, not only from managing my own business, but by working for two of the state’s largest insurers for more than 25 years.”

Carollo, a retiree who has lived 55 years in the ward, is a Riverside Cemetery volunteer and a trustee, cited communication as top priority.

“I would hope to be able to communicate, listen, and open up the line between the councilors and the residents we serve,” he said. “I have a problem with the council only meeting twice a month, I think there should be more. I am also opposed to councilors telephoning in and being on a speaker phone. And, there is a real need for more open transparency with the citizens of Marshalltown.”

Gabe Isom, at 28, the youngest of the candidates, said if elected, he would not go in with any pre-set ideas, goals or agenda.

Isom said he has lived in Marshalltown more than five years, with two years in the second ward.

“I am here to serve the second ward and the city as a whole,” said the Emerson Process Management/Fisher Controls employee. “I would work to make some of the things happen that resident and the council see fit. I want to build on the community pride … things like the 13th Street revitalization, which could resonate throughout the second ward. If elected, I would focus on capital improvement projects which have been set out. Importantly, I want to make sure we have a common vision. I want us to make Marshalltown a destination, to continue to give people a reason to stay, to make a home here. I want the community to give young professionals a reason to put their roots down like I did.”

Brittany O’Shea, a stay-at-home mom who is eager to re-enter the workforce since her youngest child will be entering kindergarten next school year. O’Shea said she is committed to serve, having run for one of two at-large seats last November and also applied last month for a special appointment to fill the vacant second ward seat when the city encouraged applicants.

“It is clear I am dedicated to serving on the council,” she said.

Communication with second ward residents and residents throughout town is a priority.

“I have spoken to Commandant Oujiri of IVH about holding monthly or bimonthly forums at IVH for second ward residents in an informal setting. On fiscal responsibility. “I was raised in a frugal household,” she said. “My parents instilled values such as ‘don’t spend what you don’t have,’ and ‘be prepared for it (an item) to cost more than you think,’ she said. “I have been able to utilize these values in my own life and consider it of utmost importance to be conscientious of all types of spending. My dad retired at age 54 and authors a money management column on Yahoo, those values have had an impact on me.”

Untiedt, who grew up in the Davenport area, has been manager of the local Orpheum Theater

for two years.

“Working hard and working smart is what makes Marshalltown a special place,” he said. “I was director of Main Street Ottumwa for three years, and have seen some of the statistics of economic development in towns this size. Marshalltown stands out in towns — 25,000 to 35,000 — because of working hard and working smart. However, we can not slow down.

Citing a background with Habitat for Humanity and other “hands-on” job experiences, Untiedt said, as a councilor he could be significant contributor in addressing Marshalltown’s housing and economic development needs.

Marshall Economic Development, as well as major employers, have identified more housing opportunities as critical to the town’s growth and future well being.

“Almost one-quarter of people who work in Marshalltown live some place else,” he said. “We need to create those housing opportunities to live here.”

Communication with residents also was high on Untiedt’s list, citing he has gone door-to-door campaigning and would eagerly host forums at IVH.


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