City Council Candidate Spotlight — Dex Walker
Editor’s note: Ahead of the November 2 election, the Times-Republican sent out questionnaires to all of the declared candidates in the city council, mayoral and school board races. We will print responses from one candidate per day in the city council and school board races this week in alphabetical order.
In the city council race, Mike Ladehoff of the First Ward is the only incumbent seeking re-election. Dex Walker is running uncontested in the Third Ward after incumbent Mike Gowdy did not turn in paperwork to seek re-election, and four candidates- Mark Eaton, Barry Kell, Jeff Schneider and Dean Stucky- are vying for two at-large seats after incumbents Bethany Wirin and Bill Martin opted not to seek re-election.
Hometown: Marshalltown, Iowa
Profession: Executive Officer, Executive Assistant to the State Medical Director, Iowa Department of Public Health
Education: Hamilton College, Practical Nursing
Family: Wife: Andrea, Children: Olivia (10), Charlotte (3)
Experience: LEAN Continuous Improvement, Iterative Development, Strategic Planning, Executive Communications, Process Management/Systems Design, Project Management
1. What do you feel are the top two most important issues Marshalltown will be facing during your term as a city councilor? How do you plan to address those issues? Two key issues Marshalltown will need to diligently pursue is our shortage of quality housing options and the revitalization of our downtown. These are complex topics that deserve continued attentiveness and long term solutions. Housing opportunities will be achieved through the continued pursuit of our communities many abandoned properties, the promotion of the $10,000 incentive offered to new home builders, and the creation of additional lots in partnership with regional developers. The opportunities that exist for Marshalltown’s downtown are immense, and our Downtown Implementation Plan will continue to provide a vision in how we fund future phases. Our council is currently awaiting word on FEMA funding for the demolition of 5 centrally located buildings, which will be a great step forward in fostering a beautiful, safe and welcoming city center.
2. The city has supported a diverse set of projects this year, such as funding the launch of MPACT. It also agreed to continue making payments toward the Fisher Community Building. What are your thoughts on the city spending on projects involving private entities and nonprofits? One of the primary goals outlined in our City’s Strategic Plan is our commitment to partner with citizens, non-profits and others to improve quality of life. This means that city decision making must take into consideration the longer term vision and sustainability of our physical spaces, the benefits afforded to community use and engagement as a whole, and the alignment of our priorities to promote Marshalltown as a community committed to more than the status quo- but rather vibrancy and growth. MPACT is a wonderful example of our community’s service leaders on the ground coming together to respond to the critical needs of our most vulnerable. So many individuals and families are desperately reaching out for services related to mental health and substance use in our community, and the partnership of YSS and our MPD is a signal of strong advocacy in Marshalltown. We need to be creative not just in how we grow, but in how we support our neighbors in need. The pursuit of special grants, like the one recently received to offset some City costs related to MPACT, is a strong signal that we will be able to sustain lasting change.
3. Marshalltown is still rebounding from two natural disasters and a global pandemic. What will the city council need to do to assure Marshalltown positions itself for the best possible outcome? It has been a long road for Marshalltown, but we are fortunate to have a wonderful pool of city professionals that have gone to heroic measures to keep our services strong, our community safe, and our collective future bright. We owe them our appreciation, and their resiliency deserves respect. We are positioned well and will keep moving forward so long as we continue to collaborate on what is within our control, and not allow ourselves to dwell on the negative. We have a great slate of work to not only be proud of, but that is in need of our continued support. One key issue was highlighted as a result of recent disasters, and that is the need to improve key infrastructure across our community. Our streets need fixing, our Center Street viaduct requires work, we have many dilapidated buildings, and the work on State Street is well overdue. These needs are expensive, but we will not be positioned well for the future unless infrastructure is prioritized now.
4. Marshalltown has a goal of increasing its population and is supporting several development projects to increase housing. What type of housing (single/multi-family, low/medium income) should the city be focusing on to spark population growth? There is a demand for all, and so the focus should be on the most immediate need- and then expand aggressively from there. In order to capture the large population of professionals that reside in towns like Ames and Ankeny, and commute to Marshalltown every day to enjoy our industries strong professional careers, I believe we should focus first on developing additional medium income housing.
5. Why do you think voters should support your candidacy for city council? I was raised in Marshalltown, and my wife and I are thrilled to be growing our own family in this community as well. My entire life I have had access to a deep pool of caring professionals and individuals that have helped mentor me to not only achieve- but to foster belief in the values that make our collective success possible. I am committed to remaining informed, seeking stakeholder insights, and placing the fiscal responsibility of our community at the forefront of the decisions we will face. I could not be more proud to call Marshalltown Iowa my home.