Bauder: ‘Working to make a difference’

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of five articles about the five candidates vying for the second-ward seat on the Marshalltown City Council.

As F. Leigh Bauder campaigns in the second ward for the vacant city council seat created when then ward councilor Joel Greer was elected mayor last November, expect her to tell voters she is more than a one-issue candidate.

But it’s clear Bauder and co-chair Anna Wolvers of Marshalltown have made a name for themselves with their nearly six-year “Splash 4 Life” effort to install “splash pads” throughout town — the issue many people identify Bauder with.

The tragic drownings of several youths in the Iowa River a number of years ago motivated the two to take action.

Their plan is to give local youth the chance to enjoy recreation at sites free-of-charge.

The duo maintain not all can afford to pay admission expenses to the city’s aquatic center.

Bauder, Wolvers and team have worked to raise money at public events, and asked the city of Marshalltown for help in addition to other efforts.

They press onward despite still having a large amount to reach their goal.

Her candidacy

In a recent interview with the Times-Republican, Bauder said she wants second-ward voters and others to understand she has a strong skill set which qualify her to serve the ward which encompasses much of northwest Marshalltown.

Her key mission: Make a difference.

If elected, Bauder said she would follow the “Golden Rule” when dealing with city staff, ward constituents and others.

“I will tell you I have fallen short of that before … I will admit that,” she said. “But a former colleague said ‘you are a sinner saved by grace.’ That (the Golden Rule) is something I want to promote, treat each other with respect.”

City debt

Bauder identified a number of issues facing the city.

“According to figures provided by the state treasurer’s office, the city has slightly more than $45 million in debt,” she said. “I realize we have $30 million in the bank to offset that, so the actual debt is $15 million. In 2006, it was $28 million. The concern I have is a trend, and I know some of the debt is going to the (joint) police and fire facility (currently being constructed in the 900 block of South Second Street). I did vote for that, I believe we need to protect our policemen and firemen. But as a city I understand we have to invest, but the city cannot spend itself to prosperity … it is a fine line.”

Central to Bauder’s concern is much of Marshalltown’s population is at, or below the poverty level.

“Our debt load is $1,648 per person,” she said. “When one adds the Marshalltown Community School District debt, Marshall County debt and Iowa Valley Community College debt, it becomes substantial.”

City’s website

“I like the city’s new website,” she said. “It is easy to use and navigate. But I would suggest enhancing it by having city officials list the number of meetings they attended, topics discussed and publish minutes if taken.”

Housing

“We need affordable housing,” she said. “We need to make sure that is safe across the board. I don’t care if it is owner-occupied or rental property. If it is in disrepair, it needs to be repaired. I live by that,” she said.

She was encouraged by the removal of five “Dangerous and Dilapidated” structures in the city’s northeast quadrant in 2016. However none were demolished in 2017. Bauder said she would study pros and cons about the city targeting more properties for demolition, assuming there is money in the budget.

“It is a creative solution,” she said.

Background

Bauder has lived in Central Iowa 50 years, and raised her children in Marshalltown.

“I love Marshalltown,” the 57-year old businesswoman said.

She cited educational attainment mixed with practical experience. She earned an associates of arts degree from Marshalltown Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University, and a master’s degree from Drake University.

After college, she started a career in the insurance business which continues.

She logged 25 years-plus working for two of the largest insurance carriers in Iowa. in 2010 she went on her own, founding Bauder Consulting. In 2014, she expanded operations to Tama, and after the death of a well-respected and dedicated agent, the two businesses were combined and relocated to its current office in downtown Marshalltown.

Bauder and fellow colleagues help customers navigate the increasingly complex world of health insurance.

Volunteer work

Despite the challenges of running a small business, Bauder has found time for volunteering: In addition to “Splash 4 Life,” she is active in her church, is a member of the local Morning Optimist Club, and has contributed her time to the Marshalltown Community School District, the former Area Education Agency 267 (now known as Central Rivers AEA) and the Make a Wish Foundation.

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