There were six questions submitted to the Indianola Independent Advocate for the three mayoral candidates to answer. With permission, I am posting my responses here. I do invite you to subscribe to the Independent Advocate to read the responses from the other two candidates.
Question 1: What are your thoughts on the proposed combination library/city hall?
"Stop kicking the can down the road" is a popular statement heard in recent years. My opinion? The kicking must stop. The City Hall must be brought up to code. The building was new when my grandpa was Mayor - in 1965! The boiler system is antiquated; half of the building too hot, the other half too cold. Security is an issue. There isn't room for Police and Fire Departments to store what they need quick access to for emergencies. The Library has issues which must be fixed.
The goal is to provide safety, a nice work environment, convenience to employees and citizens of Indianola; all up to code.
On February 1, 2021, I addressed the Council on this very topic. I asked the Council to please keep in mind that the Justice Center is landlocked on The Square. Space underground is planned for expansion. But— if in the next few years the County needs space to expand, the City of Indianola will have that large building to deal with. A County problem, but I suggested that the City be prepared to find ourselves owners of a spacious building for all-things-City when the County has to build on new green space. Trading City Square land from the County for land still within the City limits, might be a future consideration.
Combining City Hall and the Library brings various problems. City Hall in a residential area? The Library location is landlocked, too, and parking may be worse than what is there now.
At this time, the Council has voted to combine City Hall with the Library. Right or wrong, this is the plan and solves some immediate problems.
Question 2: Indianola issued 65 permits for single family homes in 2020 with an average value of $231,000. What kind of housing does Indianola need to attract and what would you do to encourage those types of projects?
The term "bedroom community" has been used to describe the location of Indianola for many years. Indianola's location is conducive to homes of any value being built here. Men and women with high pressure jobs, working for the State and companies in Des Moines, teaching in other school districts or colleges, etc., could feel like they're able to leave work behind when entering our City Limits.
We need homes for people of all incomes - whether single family homes, condos, apartments or care centers. Our Chamber of Commerce, real estate offices, our School District, successful art/music programs, sports teams, restaurants, churches, the Opera and Simpson College do amazing jobs of promoting this City.
Des Moines may be a small big city that's close and accessible, but Indianola is a comfortable haven where singles and couples feel Welcomed Home.
Question 3: Local government always seems to have small numbers of residents involved. How would you work to change this to get more people engaged in local government?
When committees are formed and people are invited to be a part of them for studying big or small projects, no one hears from the squeaky wheel until the committees divulge their findings. The time to give input is when involved in the processes.
I have developed a blogsite (www.fullsteenahead.com
) where I can inform citizens of projects or problems that will impact them in some way: The blogsite will direct people to the Chamber of Commerce website as well as the website for the City of Indianola. Our City Manager sends weekly updates in emails every Friday. I'll let residents know of that.
I would also specifically invite service club members, business/restaurant owners, pastors, high school, middle school and elementary school teachers and students to attend Council meetings.
People who get involved have better chances of seeing the end results that we like the most - if we are involved.
Question 4: If you received $1 million grant for the city of Indianola to spend however you want, what would you do with it and why?
For receipt of a $1m grant to be used specifically for the City of Indianola, any details of this donation would be questions first for the legal department, starting with the City Attorney. The Mayor could be sure that the donor shares what he or she truly wants done with the money. Will they trust the City's plan to use the money, or expect to be involved in decisions? To use it on sewer work might not be exactly what they'd like. It doesn't show the gift very well.
Should it be used for one large project in town, or divided among various projects? If this donor is living, an arrangement would need to be made in the beginning as to how any remaining money is used or saved. (When the City receives grants for specific projects, all money must be used only for that. Remaining money is returned.) In a "gift" situation, maybe remaining money could be put in a Trust or Foundation in the donor's name for use in the future.
If the donor willed money for the City at their passing, this creates different questions. Many times sports teams are given help for equipment or travel.. School music programs receive the same types of gifts. Maybe the money could be used to build a community art center. Kiwanis groups have built Miracle Fields for special needs players to play baseball games. If the donor doesn't designate a desire for how the money is used, this is where the community could be involved. Applications for the money, an amount needed, the reason for the request, how permanent the project would be in the community, etc., would be made public with a deadline.
Legal advice is required.
Question 5: Mayors around the country have been a key force behind U.S. action to reduce greenhouse gases. What action will you pursue for Indianola that would help conserve energy and improve our clean energy production?
One way to help with energy conservation is to get the buildings up to code. Use of old old furnaces and air conditioning systems is not energy efficient. Part of the Streetscape project around The Square is to help with water flow, updating the hydrants so fires can be put out and updating of the sewer system under the buildings.
Permits given for new buildings, homes or improvements on buildings and homes must address what new equipment is approved. If scooters are approved for use around town, we should know if they're electric or use gas. Indianola shouldn't rely on one source of energy - look at Texas now with frozen wind turbines. Solar arrays might be blocked by snowcover. "Hybrid energy" sources must be studied. Awareness and timely action are key.
A $1m gift might be useful for this topic.
Question 6: What do you love about Indianola?
Indianola is home. I was born in Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, but was raised in Indianola and graduated from IHS. During college and when living in different States or cities for a few years, Indianola was still home. Sometimes living elsewhere helps you know exactly where the best place is.
I want this City to continue to flourish and to welcome visitors, businesses and residents, new and old, with open arms. I want people to want to stay here. Passion is a word that is over-used when trying to prove a point. Passion, however, explains my desire to promote the City of Indianola best.
I've been involved with some of the most important projects imaginable; interacting with children, teens and adults. I've been on prestigious local Boards, helped start a recovery program, helped save a building, helped start a school. In everything I do, my goal is to help people feel better about themselves. I love this town and would be honored to be Mayor, in the footsteps of my grandpa.
I love Indianola because this is a City where any goal can be met.