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Race is on for three council seats

Eight candidates file papers

T-R FILE PHOTO The Entrance of Marshalltown City Hall.

Eight candidates will be vying for three open seats on the Marshalltown City Council election day, Nov. 5.

The all-male group submitted nomination papers to City Clerk Shari Coughenour by Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

They are competing to represent the city’s second ward, fourth ward and at-large seat. Winners will serve four years.

The at-large seat became openly contested when incumbent and veteran councilor Leon Lamer announced earlier this year he would not run for re-election.

Lamer said it was time for fresh ideas and new blood.

“I am surprised at the number running for the one at-large seat,” he said.

Second Ward

Incumbent Gabe Isom is running for re-election. Isom was first elected in February 2018 as a result of a special election. The seat became open when councilor Joel Greer was elected mayor in November 2017.

Isom defeated several well-know challengers, including Bob Untiedt by two votes upheld in a recount completed in March.

During Isom’s tenure, he has closely monitored the joint Marshalltown Police and Fire building project and city spending. He is employed at Emerson Process Management and has been active in various community organizations including the 13th Street District group.

Challenger Tyler Johnson is an insurance agent with a local Farmers Insurance Group office.

He has spent 90 percent of his life living in Marshalltown.

Johnson said he is running because Marshalltown was a “titan” while growing up.

“All I hear now is people traveling out-of-town for goods and services,” he said. “I want to bring Marshalltown back.”

Johnson said his experience as a nearly life-long resident and as a businessman in the competitive world of insurance would be an asset.

Fourth Ward

Incumbent Al Hoop announced his intentions to run for re-election earlier this year. He has been a strong advocate for increased spending on streets during his tenure, and closely monitored construction and expenses of the joint police and fire building project. He suggested early in the process the facility be built as a combined police and fire headquarters to save on construction costs and other expenses. He retired after 37 years at Emerson Process Management and is a U.S. Army veteran.

At-Large

Mark Eaton, Bruce McConnell, Gary Thompson, Dex Walker and James Walker will be working from now until election day to convince voters city-wide one will best represent residents’ interests.

Two of the five have experience running for city council previously.

Eaton, a business consultant, ran unsuccessfully for one of two at-large seats in 2017, losing to Bill Martin and Bethany Wirin.

Thompson lost the mayor’s post to Mayor Joel Greer in 2017.

Eaton is a frequent attendee at city council meetings and regularly questions city staff and council on matters of spending and transparency.

Thompson is the former owner of the UPS store on Merle Hibbs Road. He too has questioned staff and council on matters of spending and transparency.

He was an outspoken critic of the city’s decision to give Casey’s General Stores, Inc. a break on installing infrastructure for their Third Avenue store built new after the July 2018 tornado.

He said his experience as a long-time resident, business owner and volunteer would prepare him for the post.

Two of the five are employed at JBS – the city’s largest employer.

Bruce McConnell is traffic coordinator for the company, and believes his skill in managing the JBS’ semi-truck traffic qualifies him.

“At JBS one has to work with people from many different backgrounds,” he said. “That will be an asset.”

McConnell said he is running because he believes there is a lack of transparency on the council and believes the city should should do a better job monitoring contractors awarded with city contracts. McConnell returned to Marshalltown in 2005.

James Walker is from New Orleans, La. and has lived in Marshalltown for nine years.

He too cited the ability to work with people of all backgrounds at JBS as an asset which would serve him well if elected.

James Walker served more than 2.5 years on the Mid-Iowa Community Action board of directors. The federally-funded anti-poverty agency serves low income residents in Marshalltown and adjoining counties.

Dex Walker is executive assistant to the commandant at the Iowa Veterans Home.

“Marshalltown needs representation committed to consistently and positively modeling the characteristics of servant leadership, focused on the removal of barriers and not a personal agenda,” Walker said. “I want to provide a sound voice to the critical roles of our council; the assurance of community safety, the oversight of our city’s infrastructure and the enforcement of ordinances to name just a few.

The Process

Candidates had to obtain 25 signatures from eligible voters on a nominating petition.

Individuals signing nomination petitions must be a resident of the appropriate ward or city and eligible to vote for the candidate, not necessarily a registered voter.

All nomination papers are available for public inspection. Objections to the qualifications fo candidates and the legal sufficiency of nomination papers may be filed with the city clerk.

Candidates elected Nov. 5 will take office Jan. 1, 2020. City council members are paid slightly more than $3,000 annually.

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