City Council candidate spotlight — Barry Kell


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 Bill Martin and Gary Thompson opted not to seek re-election.

Barry Kell

Age: 37

Hometown: Marshalltown

Profession: Emerson, Manager — QuickShip and Parts Quotation

Education: University of Iowa, Economics and Political Science, Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, MBA

Family: Wife Kristyn, children Henry (8) and Hattie (6)

Experience: In previous community, Treasurer of Chamber-Main Street, Treasurer of Park Board and member of steering committee for Strategic Plan update

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? The continued recovery efforts from the tornado and derecho need to remain the top priority of the city and council in the near term. We have made a lot of progress without question, but we all understand the work is on-going.

While I believe the recovery efforts justify sustained focus and attention, establishing clear framework to emerge from recovery actions and seamlessly into growth phases must not wait. Moving from vision to implementation is difficult and requires resolve and courage. Marshalltown has proven it can handle near unfathomable events, that same mindset and determination with a clear, defined plan will much more attainable than we may acknowledge.

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? I believe this correctly shows acknowledgement by the city that through coordinated partnerships – services, amenities, investment, and timelines can be accelerated that make Marshalltown a better place to call home.

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are great and work to further all our interests. We have always had PPPs, such as cooperation with the hospital for ambulance service, coordinated 911 public safety response with the local wireline and wireless phone companies, and in most cases they work very well. If taxpayer funds are being used, there needs to be reasonable oversight that the funding will directly enhance Marshalltown as a place to live, work and play. Commitment from the city on these projects also provides increased validation to the entities and nonprofits of their mission and importance to the community.

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? The city already has a few detailed roadmaps through previous studies and master plans, I believe we need to stay the course and drive those to completion.

Examples are the Downtown Master Plan and HWY 14 Corridor Study. I mention these specifically because portions of each have already begun, altering the course at this point slows progress, halts collaboration, and ultimately kills momentum. There are other projects in progress such as the East Merle Hibbs expansion that should be leveraged as a catalyst for further growth and investment.

Infrastructure throughout the community, not just those tied to specific projects needs to be a be a central focus also. Some of our infrastructure is near capacity, past its usable life or in some instances, completely lacking. The roads we drive on, water we get from the tap, turnkey land needed to attract development are all topics the city council must work to address.

I would also like to see an evolution of city practices in relation to development. We need to fully understand the barriers businesses or developers (real or perceived) experience and identify how we can best partner with them to choose Marshalltown.

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? The city has funded studies recently that clearly outlines the areas of need for the city, all of those you mentioned are included.

The growth target you indirectly mention was set by the Marshalltown Area of Chamber of Commerce and backed by the City of Marshalltown, Marshall County, and numerous businesses and individuals. This challenge came on the heels of the 2020 Census data that showed Marshalltown basically held flat in the last decade, while the State of Iowa population grew 3.6%. This goal is to roughly double our population this decade, yet a more near-term goal is to reduce the commuter rate in half within the first two years of this councilperson’s term. A quick view of multiple listings or Zillow will show limited inventory across the spectrum. This can be viewed as a sign of a healthy housing market but makes growth difficult as demand is outpacing supply. Quality owner occupied and rental properties are the immediate need if we are serious about addressing the current commuter rate.

5. Why do you think voters should support your candidacy for city council? I believe voters only need to drive around town to see progress being made daily. Some of this can be attributed to the rebuilding efforts from the tornado and derecho, but we also have many examples of investment and reinvestment in our community. This to me shows a high level of confidence in the current direction of Marshalltown.

The city needs to help with the prioritization and drive implementation of growth initiatives through increased investments in infrastructure and services within our

financial means. If elected, I commit to a decision process based in research, input and consideration of all available information. As a Marshalltown native, a wife employed by the school district and two elementary aged kids, our future is here in Marshalltown. While we chose Marshalltown for what it has to offer, I also know we don’t believe Marshalltown has reached its full potential. If the city is strong and growing, it will directly impact the school district. A strong school district helps make the city of Marshalltown better. The output of all of this is increased opportunities and experiences for my children which is the goal of any parent I believe.


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