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March 2021

February 2021

Mayor Candidate Answers to Public Questions

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.

 


Do Your Homework

The special election for Mayor of Indianola is coming up quickly. 

Be sure you have listened to everything we candidates have said in radio interviews (KNIAKRLS.com - the local Indianola station), have read everything we candidates have said in interviews (www.desmoinesregister.com and The Indianola Record Herald) or by reading the articles and our answers to questions sent in by the public in The Indianola Independent Advocate (indianola-ia.com). Go online with The Simpsonian, (thesimpsonian.com, the Simpson College online paper).  If you were in attendance at the Mayor's Youth Council panel at the high school, consider our introductions of ourselves and the answers to questions.

I haven't finished visiting businesses and talking to people.  I love meeting people.  With "social distancing" necessary, it has been nearly impossible to present ourselves in front of service clubs, church groups, etc., because most aren't meeting on a regular basis or are only meeting by Zoom, Skype....

A lot of thought went into answering the questions submitted by the public to The Indianola Independent Advocate and the interview questions conducted by Amy Duncan, George Shillcock, Andrew Swadner and Paul Hyatt.  Those reporters were thorough.  Thank you to all of you and to Becky Lane, sponsor of the Mayor's Youth Council, for arranging the panel for the high school students.  Though most of the students are too young to vote, they showed great interest by their presence that morning.

Communication, which means speaking and listening, are critical to the success of any leadership position.  Those two ingredients determine a good or mediocre leader.  I want your vote for Mayor of Indianola, Iowa; my home town, your home town.  Do your "home" work.

 

 


Simpson College

Today, Thursday morning, February 25, I had the pleasure of being on a zoom call with Paul Hyatt, Junior, and staff writer for Simpson College's student-run newspaper, The Simpsonian. We discussed a lot about how Simpson fits with the City of Indianola. I believe it was a profitable, worthy conversation.

If anyone wants to check The Simpsonian out, go to thesimpsonian.com. To contact Paul directly, go to paul.hyatt@my.simpson.edu 

The article about the mayoral candidates won't be posted for a couple of days. This is an online newspaper.


Indianola High School's Mayor's Youth Council

Seven a.m. (7:00 a.m.) is early.  But I'll tell you something. When you get up and around to be at a meeting at that time, you know it's important and you want to be there. This is when the Mayor's Youth Council meets at Indianola High School. 

That's what I can say about the three of us running for Mayor in the special election on March 2, 2021, and about Becky Lane who sponsors the Council. I can say it, too, about the twenty high school students who attended, right on time at 7:00.

They opened with the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm impressed. The candidates for Mayor were then given three minutes to introduce ourselves and explain why we want to be Mayor of Indianola. After our introductions, the students were given the opportunity to ask questions.

My main point, and this applies to anyone of any age, is that people have to be involved. People with ideas need to surround themselves with "help." I made the point that my list of everything I've done (which just touched the surface) sounds like bragging - but weren't just done alone. Everything took help by various numbers of people. 

If we don't get involved with the start of each process, we have no business complaining when the decision/s don't go our way. There's no "I told you so" allowed if you haven't opened your mouth. 

Example, which I didn't tell this morning, is that due to a pretty awful car wreck where the drunk driver who hit us was killed, I got involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Because of our experience and because of getting involved with MADD, I spoke at the Capitol before the Iowa Legislature to help convince them to lower the acceptable Blood Alcohol Level (BAL) for drivers. Which they did.

Not much can be done successfully, well or lasting without many people working together. I have been on many Boards and Committees where solutions have been found through studying the issues and making plans. But when other people find out the outcomes, many times they complain and question it all. ~Squeaky wheels.~ If they had been involved from the beginning, there wouldn't be as much arguing or push-back.

Like a well-oiled machine or a winning team, people need to get involved and work together. That is what I think the students on the Mayor's Youth Council will do. They are already beginning their involvement. I'm proud of them.


Proud of this opportunity

I find the right words so very hard to choose to start this particular blog. Fun. I'm having fun. But serious. It is important and serious.

When my grandpa decided to run for Mayor of Indianola, I was in 5th grade. I don't remember if he discussed it with the family. I don't remember if he asked for help with signs and flyers. I do remember him sitting in a car doing a radio interview. Why a car, I don't know. It wasn't like he could get away from us noisy grandchildren and do the interview with his cell phone. Not in 1965. The reporter probably used a tape recorder to record the interview. I don't remember ever hearing it.

As an adult, I've been involved with many political campaigns. Local County candidates, State candidates and Dr. Ben Carson for President.

I've said before, but it's true, I would be honored to serve Indianola as Mayor, even for the ten months left in Mr. Shaw's term.

News you should know about this week is that our local radio station is airing interviews done with the three candidates during "Let's Talk Indianola." Our 3-year-old, local radio station will air an interview I had with Andrew Swadner on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

Stephanie Erickson's was aired today (Monday 2/22), mine will be tomorrow and Pam Pepper's on Wednesday the 24th. The radio station is KNIA 94.3 FM. If you miss hearing them at the time the radio plays them, you may go to the website and listen to them online. The link for that is KNIAKRLS.com 

I can also tell you that the Simpsonian College Newspaper will interview us this week. The purpose is to help students realize the ability and necessity to participate in the election process. I'll tell you more about that, about the student doing the interviews and writing the article, and how you can get a copy of the paper or read it online after it is completed.

 
 
 

Monday, February 22, 2021

I hope everyone will have a nice Monday, the start to a nice week. 

This is the last week to vote in the Special Election prior to election day. If you want to vote early, it's too late to request a ballot be mailed to you. You may go to the Administration Building, 301 N Buxton, Indianola, during the hours the building is open. I know that they close at 4:30, so it would be best to go no later than 4:00. They will take your temperature when you enter the building. You'll need your ID to be given a ballot. If you have questions for the Auditor's Office, the # is 515-961-1020.

If you miss voting this week, you can still vote there on Monday, March 1. On Tuesday, March 2, the poll where everyone will vote is at American Legion, on 1st Street, directly across from the Post Office to the east.

Vote for the candidate you believe will be the best Mayor. I hope you will trust me to be that candidate. I'll keep you informed, pay attention to your concerns, I'll listen and direct your concerns to the right person. I'll do my best to respond directly to you, or will address issues here in this blog. There may be others with similar questions. Basically, I'll do my best to make myself available; in person, by phone, by email or blog.


Essay Submitted to Council Prior to Interview in October 2020

     As I look out the window, today is a sunny, warm day for October in Iowa.  Other days have gray skies, tornado, even derecho winds, blizzard conditions or fog—many of which could happen in Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer here….  That is similar to the conditions of a city.  All leaders of Cities, States and Nations must realize the changes that might come gradually or unexpectedly.  Having things run smoothly is best.

     I grew up in Indianola, was a dancer, a cheerleader, participated in clubs, sang in the choir, was a founding member of the New Life Singers my Junior year; members of whom were kids from every church in the area.  I went to college in Ames and Iowa City.  My husband and I lived in the mountains of Virginia for a Summer and two years in Minneapolis.  We moved back to Iowa City, to Burlington on the mighty Mississippi, and then came full-circle back to Warren County where everything we got involved in was in Indianola.

     The Fetters and Steen families have been involved in Indianola for many years, in many ways.  Education, a dance band, athletics, civic involvement…. My grandpa died in office as Mayor in the mid-60s.  I know that Indianola is a different City than it was at that time.  But I have a passion for helping Indianola thrive.

     In a way, I’d love for the world to know about this City that sits in the heart of the Nation.  In another way, it’s a rather nice secret.

   Balloons that dot the sky every year, and any time the winds cooperate, are a sight to see.  I’ve ridden in balloons twice.  Fun!  We can brag about the great college that we can all benefit from; everyone taking classes or just to walk the campus.  Our Elementary Schools, Middle and High Schools send well-equipped young people into the world when they complete the grades.  And to my knowledge, none of them get left behind if they struggle.

     I would like a chance to sit in the office of Mayor; to complete the term left from Mr. Kelly Shaw’s resignation.  What I don’t know about or understand, I would get the answers.  I would like a chance to help citizens thrive as well as the City.  I would do my best to make Indianola continue to be a place of which we’re all proud.

     Your vote for me on March 2, 2021, would mean the world to me.  [updated: I’ve built a website so that people have a chance to contact me easily and voice opinions, concerns, needs….  It is ready now and readers may comment.  Go to www.fullsteenahead.com

   I will add here that Tom and I dated in High School, went to college together (after I transferred from ISU to Iowa), we married in 1975 and have three children and four grandchildren. Tom graduated from Iowa, played baseball for a season with the Houston Astros, then went to Grad School in Minneapolis. I graduated from Iowa in 1992 (no typo), with Tom, my parents and our three kids watching me walk across the platform for my diploma. I graduated with athletes such as Acie Earl and Danan Hughes; who my guys liked watching graduate more than their mother. Graduating in the way I did proves that there is no time limit on goals. If you want it, it can be done. And our family motto is "You've gotta try."

    Thank you for considering me for Mayor.  Michelle


Today, Friday, February 19, 2021, is the last day to call the Auditor's office to request a ballot to vote for Mayor be mailed. If they receive the request today (best to call before 4:00) it will be mailed by the end of their office hours today. Call 515-961-1020.
You may still vote prior to March 2, 2021, by going in to the Auditor's office. 301 N Buxton, Indianola. And on March 2, voting will be done at American Legion Hall on 1st Street, across the street east of the Post Office.

The Right to Vote

March 2, 2021, is the date for the special election for Indianola Mayor. While this might not seem like a big deal, a vote for only one office, having the right to help choose the person who will be the Ambassador for your City really is a big deal.

I'd be honored to have your vote. I've said before that my grandpa was Mayor in the mid-60s. He died while in office, so there must have been a special election to replace him. I'm running to fill the office left open by a resignation. In a weird way, it feels like I'm completing Grandpa's term in office. I hadn't really thought of it that way before.

If there's a chance that you'll forget to vote on March 2, then please vote early at the Administration Building, 310 N Buxton, Indianola. Details below: forgive if the card is crooked : )

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I'm so excited to be Mayor of Indianola. In order to reach that goal, I need you all to vote for me. Remember that you can vote early at the Administration Building (see the previous blog post) or you can vote on March 2 (see the previous blog post about that too). Tell your friends. All who vote in this election must live within the City Limits of Indianola. Get some sun tomorrow and vote early. Thank you!