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Please demonstrate real leadership

I have attended few city council meetings in my years in Marshalltown. However, I was keenly aware, growing up in a Minnesota small town, of the responsibilities my father felt in his more than 25 years as mayor. In many ways it was a thankless job; no one hesitated to complain and few offered thanks. He accepted this and chose to serve.

In my opinion, real qualities of leadership lie in the ability to listen, to provide vision and to use wisdom in decision-making.

At the February council meeting, I was surprised by the comparatively few questions posed by council members relative to the many decisions made. I was also surprised by how easily council could agree to decisions affecting Marshalltown’s future while acknowledging that several of them will no longer be in office when the ramifications of these decisions impact the community.

Only 10 years ago, Iowa River Hospice, using private funds, built the beautiful hospice home we all appreciate. As a community, we must be able to trust that decisions, once made, will be honored. We must also be able to trust that our elected officials will honor the wishes of their citizenry. The decision to extend Fifth Avenue, placing it literally in the IRH home’s backyard, may be what our city administration wants, but the real question is: “Is it important to the community?”

We are told that these decisions are made in the name of economic development. I believe we have huge economic development opportunities before us as we continue our work to revitalize the community post-tornado. Real economic development will come as Marshalltown becomes an attractive place to live. Miscellaneous roads and sidewalks do not begin to make that impact. Directing those same dollars and grants toward restoration of areas on the north side of Marshalltown would make a huge impact on how we, and others, view Marshalltown. Why would we choose to let one area decay while developing another?

I ask the council to demonstrate real leadership in this community. Let’s rehab areas with existing infrastructure. Let’s do the hard work of restoration, creating buildings and green spaces on our north side that will lift our entire community. The harder job is restoration, but it is also positive economic development. Please work to improve these areas and do no harm to prized spaces like the Iowa River Hospice Home.

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