Candidates in area contested races express perspectives prior to November 7 City Election

Waukon City Council Ward 3 Candidates

Waukon Mayor Candidates

Harpers Ferry Mayor Candidates

City Council Wards in the town of Waukon ... With multiple City Council Wards in Waukon being part of this year's City Election scheduled for Tuesday, November 7, City officials felt it in the best interest of voters to remind them of the area each of the town's three City Council Wards covers. Ward Two (highlighted in yellow in the southwest portion of Waukon) does not actually have a city council candidate on the City Election ballot this year, as the Ward Two council seat currently occupied by John Lydon is not up for election for another two years. Residents in Ward Two will vote at St. John's Lutheran Church for the mayor and at-large city council seat, as well as the proposed hotel/motel tax increase. Ward One (highlighted in blue and essentially covering all areas east of Spring Avenue/Rossville Road and Allamakee Street, plus a couple smaller areas just west of Allamakee Street in the north portion of the city) has just one candidate, Gayle Decker, vying for that seat, which is actually being vacated by current occupant Steve Wiedner as he seeks the mayor's seat in this year's election. Ward One residents will vote at the NICC Waukon Center. Ward Three (highlighted in pink and covering the vast majority of northwest Waukon) is the lone contested council race in Waukon this year, with three candidates vying for that seat, including incumbent Don Steffens and challengers Arvid Hatlan and Kevin Welsh. Residents of Ward Three will vote in the Supervisors Board Room in the Allamakee County Courthouse. For additional information on ward locations or voting precincts, contact the Waukon City Clerk's office at 563-568-3492. Submitted image.

Voters in all Allamakee County towns with local government representation are scheduled to go to the polls Tuesday, November 7 to cast their selections in the 2017 City Election. Sample ballots of the respective races within each of the communities with local government candidates competing in this year's election were published on Pages 2B and 3B in the October 25 issue of The Standard, along with a listing of polling sites for all six Allamakee County towns holding elections this year. Election polls will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. in Waukon and from 12 noon-8 p.m. in all other Allamakee County communities holding elections.

In an effort to help inform voters prior to their venture to the polls November 7, The Standard issued a questionnaire to each of the candidates in the area races actually being contested on this year’s City Election ballot. The series of questions asked and each candidate’s responses to those questions surround this article and continue to additional pages, as noted, inside this issue.

The questionnaires were sent to candidates who are vying for a position that has more candidates running for the position than the ballot instructions indicate to vote for. For example, there are five candidates for Waukon Mayor, but the ballot instructs voters to vote for no more than one. Ward Three of the Waukon City Council also has multiple candidates running for that lone council seat, and Harpers Ferry also has a contested race for Mayor with two candidates vying for that open seat. It is just those three positions that feature contested races throughout the county, and candidates in all three of those contested races were issued questionnaires, with their responses being printed on this same page and continued elsewhere.

The City of Waukon has a pair of contested races within its local governmental realm this year. Five candidates are vying the mayor position, with current mayor Duane DeWalle not seeking re-election this year. Three candidates, including the incumbent, are also seeking the Ward Three Waukon City Council seat.

Both of those contested races require a single candidate to earn at least one more than half of the casted vote total, meaning at least 50% plus one more vote, in order to be declared winner of the November 7 election. Should that not happen, the two candidates with the most votes will then be matched against one another again in a run-off election, tentatively slated for December 5, with write-in candidates possible for that run-off election as well.

The five-candidate race for mayor includes a pair of current Waukon City Council members in Steve Wiedner from Ward One and At-Large Councilman Dwight Jones, who previously served eight years as mayor beginning nearly two decades ago. Also featured in this year's mayoral race for Waukon are Darryl Brink - not to be confused with former councilman Darrold "Red" Brink, and a pair of self-employed local businessmen in Rick Herman and Pat Stone.

The three-person race for Waukon City Council Ward Three features incumbent candidate Don Steffens, who will be seeking his second term in that position. Challenging Steffens for that Ward Three seat will be residents Arvid Hatlan and Kevin Welsh.

Two other Waukon City Council seats are also up for election this year. Ben Rausch will be seeking another term in his At-Large Council position, with Gayle Decker seeking election to the Ward One Council seat being vacated by Wiedner in his mayoral quest. Both of those City Council candidates are running unopposed in this year's race.

The Veterans Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees will also have two seats up for re-election in this year's City Election. Long-time trustees Revelyn Lonning and Patty Nordheim will each be seeking to be elected back into their respective positions on the board once again.

Voters in Waukon will also notice a Public Measure A item on this year's ballot, which will propose an increase in the city's hotel/motel tax from the current four percent to the seven percent maximum allowed by the Iowa code. Further details about that hotel/motel tax increase can be found in the sidebar story printed in a shaded box on Page 11A of this week's edition of The Standard.

Voters in the town of Waukon will be voting at their respective polling sites based on what Ward they live in (see Ward map on Page 16A [above] of this week's edition of The Standard). Ward One residents will vote at the Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Waukon Center, Ward Two residents will vote at St. John's Lutheran Church, and Ward Three residents will vote in the Supervisors Board Room on the first floor of the Allamakee County Courthouse. Polls in Waukon are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The town of Harpers Ferry will feature the only other city government position facing a contested race in this year's City Election, as long-time mayor Jerry Valley has opted not to seek re-election this year. A pair of current Harper Ferry City Council members, Don Gibson and Richard Smrcina, are vying for that mayoral seat. The only other election on the Harpers Ferry ballot is for a pair of City Council seats, with just two candidates vying for those seats in incumbent Tom Boots and newcomer to the local government election scene Bob Sturch.

Voters in Harpers Ferry can cast their ballot at the Ethel Robinson Meehan Community Center. Polls in Harpers Ferry are open from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The town of Lansing will have all five of its City Council seats on this year's election ballot, with five candidates also listed on the ballots to fill those five seats. Two of those candidates will be incumbents Stephanie Runkle and Curtis Snitker, with former council person Deb Volker seeking to be elected to one of the three remaining open seats, along with Michael J. Manning and Justin Shepard.

Voters in Lansing can cast their ballot at the Kerndt Brothers Community Center. Polls in Lansing are open from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The town of Waterville will have its mayor's office and also have five City Council seats on this year's ballot, along with just one candidate listed for mayor and five candidates to fill those Council positions. Robbie Burrett, David Christianson, Matthew Rathbun, Ashley Mitchell and Jeffrey Mitchell are listed on the ballot vying for those Council seats. Incumbent mayor Dave Monserud is also listed on the ballot as the lone candidate for that position.

Voters in Waterville can cast their ballot at the Waterville City Library. Polls in Waterville are open from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The town of New Albin will have the most city offices on the ballot this year, although all three of those races are uncontested with incumbents seeking to be re-elected. Current mayor Josh Dreps is the lone candidate listed for this year's mayoral race, with the same being said for city treasurer Diane Erbe.

The City Council seats open on this year's election ballot also feature incumbents George Blair and Debra Crane as the only candidates listed.

Voters in New Albin can cast their ballot at the New Albin Community Center. Polls in New Albin are open from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

The town of Postville has both an election for mayor and for two City Council seats listed on this year's ballot. Incumbent mayor Leigh Rekow will be seeking re-election to that position, with Mary Engstrom being listed as the only candidate on the Postville ballot for the City Council race seeking to fill two positions on the Council. Voters in Postville can cast their ballot at Turner Hall. Polls in Postville are open from 12 noon to 8 p.m.

Voters can request an absentee ballot at the Allamakee County Auditor's Office or online from either the Allamakee County website,, or the Iowa Secretary of State website, The last day to request an absentee ballot by mail is Friday, November 3. In-person absentee voting can be done at the Allamakee County Auditor's Office during regular office hours (8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays) through Monday, November 6 at 4 p.m. for Waukon residents, and through 11 a.m. Tuesday, November 7 for residents of all other towns.

Waukon City Council - Ward Three

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Hatlan: My name is Arvid Hatlan and I have been married to my wife, Laurie, for 32 years and have six children, with two still growing up and being students at Waukon schools. I have been employed at Black Hills Energy as a Service Technician and work throughout Waukon and the surrounding areas.

Some of my community involvement includes being a member of the Waukon Park, Rec and Wellness Center Board, Allamakee Athletic Booster Club, St. Patrick Parish Building and Grounds Committee; previously have served as the head of the Waukon RAGBRAI Showers, Sanitation and Clean-Up Committee; and also have been involved in coaching many youth sports. Since moving to Waukon 12 years ago, my family and I have felt Waukon to be the place that has finally felt like home to us.

Steffens: I taught high school English and coached girls cross country and girls track for 35 years at the Waukon High School; I retired from teaching in 2001. After retiring from teaching, I worked with Ernie Lubahn Construction for 15 years. I also worked for Pioneer Hybrids International for summer work - 35 years as an inspection supervisor, working in Illinois, Iowa, Washington and Oregon.

My wife and I have six children, all of whom graduated from Waukon High School. We also have 17 grandchildren. My wife and I attend Center Baptist Church in rural Lansing. I am an active member of Gideons International, which is a Christian organization which has a mission of providing Bibles and New Testaments to people throughout the world, including the United States. I also, as a member of this organization, speak to many of our local churches about the Gideons.

Welsh: I was born and raised in the Lycurgus area, the son of Dan and Sarah Welsh. I graduated from Waukon High School in 1976 and after one year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville went to work in Wyoming. I returned to Iowa in 1982 to attend Iowa State University.

My wife, Teri, and I were married in 1983 and returned to Waukon after graduation from Iowa State University to raise our family. Our four children attended Waukon schools and after post-high school education, all four moved back to the Waukon area. Chelsea Rhodas works at Elliott Jewelers, Brennan owns Lucky 7 Design, Corey is a foreman with JB Holland Company and Ciara is a BSN at Mayo Hospital in La Crosse, WI.

We have lived in Waukon at our current address since 2000 and have been active in church and community activities our entire lives. Waukon is and has been home to my family and me for a very long time.

What motivated you to seek a seat on the Waukon City Council?

Steffens: I was a write-in candidate four years ago. I felt at that time that Waukon Third Ward needed someone who was conservative and was not swayed by any self-promoting individual or organization. I feel the same motivation today.

Welsh: I began attending city council meetings in March of 2017 and decided it was time to get involved in Waukon government. I feel everyone needs to step up and take their turn, so God willing and with a vote of confidence from you good people, maybe it’s my turn to step up and help this city move forward.

Hatlan: What motivated me to seek a seat on the Waukon City Council was that I want to bring a new perspective and energy to the council to work to revitalize our community. I have a strong desire to make a difference with hands-on involvement and a common-sense approach in upcoming projects like the sewage treatment plant, street improvement and sidewalks. I would like to see efficient use of tax dollars and efficiently run council meetings to be done in a timely manner.

As a candidate for the Waukon City Council, what do you feel would be your ultimate responsibility to the citizens of the city if elected?

Welsh: To represent them to the best of my ability and be a part of a city council that has Waukon and our surrounding communities close to their heart and held in their best interest.

Hatlan: As a candidate, I feel my ultimate responsibility to the citizens of the city, if elected, would be the city council members to be informed on the issues concerning city affairs and to be able to discuss and vote on these matters with the proper facts and information before the council. As a council member, we need to work with other boards and committees to benefit all citizens of Waukon. I also understand the importance of consistently participating in council meetings and am committed to that demand.

Steffens: Certainly, a council member helps to make decisions which affect the entire city, but one needs to represent fully the folks who elected him, the Third Ward.  And just as importantly, we as a Waukon City Council must be fully aware that many of our townspeople are on fixed incomes and cannot afford continual increases in their taxes.

Secondly, any spending done by the city council should be done with the solid idea that we are spending the people’s money and spending must be done with utmost care and thought.

What are the current issues of greatest concern that you see facing Waukon, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Hatlan: I see the upcoming Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) highway and street project not as a concern but as an opportunity for Waukon to address our downtown infrastructure and revitalize our Main Street to make our downtown more appealing with improvements to include, but not limited to, things such as more decorative street lights, downtown sitting benches, etc.

Other upcoming projects for Waukon to face and address would be the replacement of the sewage treatment facility; we need to make sure we have a solution that is both high quality and affordable for our citizens and businesses. We need to work with our city manager and water department to do this properly for present and future generations living in Waukon. We are also faced with street and sidewalk improvements which we need to prioritize with short- and long-term planning that will allow us to do this in a way that will be affordable and sustainable.

Steffens: One of the pressing concerns for Waukon is the deteriorating inner-structure of our city.  While some of these concerns have recently been addressed, there is much more to do concerning storm sewers, streets and sewer systems.

Also, a huge concern is the upcoming state and federal required construction of a new sewage plant. How to pay for this plant in such a way which has the least economic effect on every property owner is critical. I will endeavor to be a part of the difficult decision which is best for all citizens, especially those on a fixed income.

Welsh: We’re facing a six to eight million dollar waste water treatment plant build, and that’s only one of many issues. Streets are always an issue, but what’s under our streets and the age of the majority of our water and sewer systems will involve tremendous expense for repair and replacement in the years ahead. I offer common sense thinking on ways to deal with these issues, and I offer the ability to work with people to get things done.

In your view, what will it take to help Waukon not only survive, but thrive in the future?

Steffens: The recent RAGBRAI event in Waukon shows what the city can do with excellent organization and excellent volunteer help. People can and need to work together to make Waukon thrive and grow. People need to voice their opinions directly to council members and attend council meetings to express his/her thoughts and ideas.

Attracting new industry to Waukon is a necessity, but that industry must assure that it does not interfere with the health and welfare of Waukon citizens.

Welsh: I am not, by nature, a negative person, though I can go there at times. Survive and thrive tend to be words that are foreign to me, so not to be negative, but to be realistic… Waukon will be here in some form, a living, breathing community providing services for its citizens, a safe place to raise a family or retire in, a town to be proud of when you drive in or walk its streets, but we all have to work at it; we all have our part to play. I think “live” is a better word for Waukon than survive or thrive.

Hatlan: I aspire to help Waukon not only survive but thrive by finding ways to attract new and specialized businesses that will draw more shoppers to our downtown. We need to find ways to have people who are initially in Waukon to want to return here. We need to continue to work to have access to broadband internet services in order to attract individuals who telecommute for their jobs and also businesses that would find this service very beneficial for their day-to-day operation.

It is very important for Waukon to be an attractive place for people to want to live here. This will also help to motivate people, businesses and industry to be located in Waukon, which in return will provide more jobs and families to support our school system as well.

We need to work to do everything we can to impact our town in an extremely positive way. We live in such a great community and already have so many great things happening that I want to work for the citizens of Waukon to try to make it even better.

Waukon Mayor

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Brink: I grew up on a farm north of Decorah. In 1982, I met my wife, Jean Decker of Waukon. She is the current owner of Queen Jean Quilting.

In 1986, we joined the U.S. Army and retired here in 2008. Prior to joining the military, I worked for a local farmer near Waukon. I am currently employed with Moore Trucking, where I’ve been for the past five years, hauling Regancrest milk. I enjoy attending various athletic events with my grandkids.

Herman: I am Rick Herman, a 1983 Waukon High School graduate and the son of Harlan "Herk" Herman and Carol Hammel. After high school I worked at several different jobs over the years right here in Waukon. I also became a member of the Waukon Fire Department in 1984 and was a reserve police officer for three years.

I married Cathy Arado in 1992, and we have three children. I took over my father's business, Herk's Lawn and Garden, in 2005.

Jones: I’m a lifelong resident of Allamakee County, the son of Dayton and Katey Jones. I grew up near Harpers Ferry and moved to Waukon in 1993 when my wife, Danette (Welsh), and I were married. We have four children: Cameron, age 22, Bailey, age 20, Carson, age 17, and Brinley, age 14.

I am currently employed with BoxLogix Automation of Prairie du Chien, WI, serving as their Customer Relations Manager for the past five years. We are members of St. Patrick Catholic Church, volunteer on the Allamakee Athletic Booster Club, and enjoy being active in our community.

I previously served as Mayor of Waukon from 2000 through 2008, and have been on the Waukon City Council for the past two years.

Stone: I went to school in Waukon.  I grew up in rural Allamakee County and made my home there until 2008 when the Upper Iowa River came out of the banks and flooded my home. I then purchased a home in Waukon and have been a resident of the city since. I am the owner of Stone Construction of Waukon. My family consists of my wife, Rachel, and our three sons, Patrick "P.J." (19), Mason (5) and Miles (2).

Wiedner: I am a lifelong member of the community and will live nowhere else. I have been married to Kathy for 50 years. We have two grown children, Katie and Molly, and three granddaughters, Brooklyn, Madilyn and Avery. I have worked in the automotive business all my adult life and taught auto body repair at Northeast Iowa Community College for 15 years. I currently run my own small antique car repair business.

As the potential Mayor of Waukon, what do you feel would be your ultimate responsibility to the citizens of Waukon?

Herman: I feel a mayor's responsibilities are to listen to all citizens and do what is best for the city as a whole, including business owners.

Jones: Having previously served in this role for eight years, I feel I have a very good understanding of what the job takes. Truth be told, in a mayor/council system, the mayor has very limited power to make drastic changes on his/her own, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not an important job. Keeping everyone on the same page, moving the City in a positive direction, taking care of today’s issues while continuing to look five and ten years down the road are all things I would like to feel I bring to the table.

I look at serving as mayor no different than being the CEO of a major corporation, and with an annual multi-million dollar budget and additional multi-million dollar projects coming at us full steam, that’s exactly what this is. This is no place for those with an axe to grind or someone looking to attend a couple meetings a month and get an easy paycheck. There’s a lot of work to do and countless important decisions to be made and I feel my experience and understanding of City government makes me the best candidate to lead the way.

Stone: I feel that this position is a job. The citizens of Waukon would be hiring me to do a job. My responsibility is to communicate with the citizens about issues and address them in a straight forward manner. I would work with the council to create more ways to generate income for the city.

Wiedner: To see that the money is spent wisely and for projects that will benefit the whole community.

Brink: Come up with solutions to any issues that will make our town an enjoyable place to live and visit.

If elected, what would be your issues of highest priority in helping direct city government?

Jones: There’s a world of difference between identifying issues and developing plans to fix those same issues. Anyone could drive through town and see that we have streets that are in dire need of repair. They would also see our need to build more sidewalks and repair many of the existing ones. They’d likely say that we need to keep our existing businesses and attract new ones. So there, we’ve identified some major problems, but the truth is, that fixes nothing.

We have a new City Manager, and we need to lean on his experience and resources to help initiate a game plan that addresses all of the issues listed above and more. We need to utilize every option available to identify potential grants and/or other sources of revenue to help offset the financial burden against the City and our taxpayers. We need a leader at the council table that has experience working through differences and keeping all involved focused on what should be everyone’s ultimate goal, that being the betterment of Waukon.

Stone: The highest priority for the city is income vs. expense. I would offer new ways to generate income.

Wiedner: To continue with the good progress that we have made and to make long-term plans that will show the people of this area and the state of Iowa why Waukon is the place to come to live and grow.

Brink: I would, first, sit down with City officials and explain my vision for Waukon, then discuss all issues the City and businesses have and work as a team to come up with the best solution. I believe if there are problems with anything or anybody, we, as the residents of Waukon, also should be part of the solution.

Herman: Bring in more jobs to the city, improving sidewalks and streets, and creating a place for youth to spend productive time.

What are the current issues, good and bad, that you see facing Waukon, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Stone: We have a new sewer plant that will be built soon and needs to be paid for. Many of our streets need repair, and this all costs money. To me, the solution is to earn more money to pay your bills. I say "earn" because you should only have to pay if you are receiving a service or item.

Reel Core Inc., Aveka Nutra Processing, WW Homestead Dairy and a number of other local businesses are growing. This is great for our community. We need to do what we can as a City to help all local business to succeed and grow.   If everyone is doing good, then the City is doing good.

Wiedner: Primarily, repairing the infrastructure - e.g., storm sewer, roads and sidewalks, and the overall functionality and beauty of our city. Also, I’ll use my experience as a three-term councilman to continue to work with the citizens and businesses of this area to promote and improve our quality of life and use all the benefits of this community that we now enjoy.

Brink: There are many different issues facing Waukon. I would listen to all of them, prioritize them and work on them as efficiently as possible.

Herman: We need to get more businesses in town. We need to keep a closer eye on the money being spent and maintain what we have.

Jones: We need a new sewer plant. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact, and the EPA has started the clock ticking on when we need to have a new one built. Cost estimates are in the $8 million range. We need to work hard to leave no stone unturned on funding sources to make the cost burden to property owners within our city as minimal as possible, while at the same time making sure the system we install will satisfy our needs for the next 30-plus years.

As previously mentioned, we have street repair issues that need a long-term plan initiated and adhered to. Two street projects have been completed in the past several years that included assessments to property owners. Assessment is an ugly word that many don’t like to talk about because it is horribly unpopular. In fairness to those that have already paid assessments and to those that have streets in their neighborhood that are in disrepair and affecting property values, it is our job as City leaders to develop a sustainable street program that is both fair and easily supported by future councils. With changes at the council table every two years, it can be difficult to develop programs that hold traction because faces and opinions at that table change, thus the importance of the word “sustainable”.

And last but not least, we must continue to work hard to keep and/or bring quality, high paying jobs to our community, while at the same time making sure that the businesses that we have and/or bring are thriving while also being good neighbors to the property owners already here.

 In your view, what will it take to allow Waukon to not only survive, but thrive in the future?

Wiedner: We, as a community, must increase our knowledge by using available educational facilities and our own good common sense to adapt to the changes which tomorrow will bring. By doing this, we all can continue to move forward to make our future better.

Brink: I encourage the residents of Waukon and Allamakee County to shop local and have business owners stay competitive on prices from outside businesses. We need to have more events in Waukon and have small businesses open their doors here.

Herman: Bringing new businesses to town, improving streets and upgrading and maintaining sewer lines. We have to work together to get things done.

Jones: Our biggest asset as a community is our people, who are without a doubt some of the best in the world. Individually, we may choose to live here for differing reasons (family, employment, hobbies, etc.), but at the end of the day it is important for all of us that we keep Waukon moving in a positive direction.

Of the things mentioned above - quality jobs, good infrastructure, etc., all are imperative to keeping Waukon a place we want to continue to call home. If elected mayor, I will work hard to make sure our council, department heads and others throughout City government and their staffs continue to work together to make that happen.

Stone: I believe if we want to grow as a town we need to let individuals who want to invest in our town do so. I think we need to ease up on some of the restrictions to building. Most of our City budget comes from real estate taxes, so why do we have so many restrictions for people wanting to improve real estate when this is where our funding comes from?

We need to embrace new ways and ideas to find what works for our individual community. We can't try to copy other towns and expect the same results as they've experienced. We need to have other towns want to copy us. We need other towns' citizens to want to come for what we have to offer and with that will come growth.

Harpers Ferry Mayor

Please provide some background information about yourself.

Gibson: I was born and raised in Waterloo and active in sports all my life. I served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in the infantry, receiving the Bronze Star, CIB, ARCOM with V and two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal and Expert in firearms. I graduated from UNI with a BA in Business/Physical Education, a BA in Elementary Education, and an MA in Elementary Administration, Superintendent.

I have two daughters, six grandchildren and one great-grandson. I have lived in Harpers Ferry for 11 years, buying my dad's place, who came to Harpers in 1962. I retired from teaching after 40 years teaching at the elementary, junior high and retiring from the high school I graduated from. I taught Business and coached swimming, soccer, football and baseball at varsity levels.

I was the Exalted Ruler for the Elk's Lodge in Waterloo. I also started and was the Chairman of a Duck's Unlimited Chapter for 18 years. Since living in Harpers Ferry, I have served on the city council for four-and-a-half years, and substitute taught in Waukon, Lansing and Prairie du Chien, WI. I enjoy the outdoors, woodworking, hunting and fishing, shooting pool, golf and bowling when I can.

Smrcina: My wife of 40 years, Susan, and I are proud parents of three children and one granddaughter. Susan and I both grew up in northeast Iowa and spent a lot of time in Harpers Ferry. I graduated from Waukon Senior High in 1972 and worked several jobs in the area until getting married in 1977 and moving to Ottumwa. I attended Indian Hills Community College and received an Associate Degree in   Computer Science.

I went to work at AID Insurance (Allied Group, now Nationwide Insurance) as a computer programmer. I ended my 30-year career as a Manager, IT applications.  In 2010, after retiring and our three girls being on their own, Susan and I decided to move back to northeast Iowa. We built a home in Harpers Ferry. My mom still lives in this area and Susan has siblings here. I was the postal clerk for he Harpers Ferry Post Office for three-plus years before retiring in January 2017.

As the potential Mayor of Harpers Ferry, what do you feel would be your ultimate responsibility to the citizens of Harpers Ferry?

Smrcina: I have currently been serving on the city council for the past two-plus years. My ultimate responsibility to the citizens of Harpers Ferry is to be honest, make decisions that are fair according to our city ordinances, and to be fiscally responsible.

Gibson: The ultimate responsibility to the citizens is safety, regulating a black budget, maintaining the civil services of the city, supporting and being active in the local groups that add to the community and continuing to keep Harpers Ferry a good place to live. Of immediate concern is to replace the banking services in Harpers Ferry that have chosen to leave after over 50 years.

If elected, what would be your issues of highest priority in helping direct city government?

Gibson: Maintaining a high level of comfort in the community, doing some cosmetic things to insure safety of the citizens and attempting to become debt free so as to use those funds for upkeep and maintenance of the equipment we have. Again, attempt to replace banking services and to promote business opportunity. Training the council members and employees in order to keep up to date with necessary city and government issues.

Smrcina: The continuing operation of services and safety of our citizens, and keeping an eye on any future opportunities that would be beneficial for Harpers Ferry.

What are the current issues, good and bad, that you see facing Harpers Ferry, and what does your candidacy offer in addressing those issues?

Smrcina: The most recent problem the community is facing is the announcement of our bank closing. I have been meeting with the mayor to determine what can be done to attract another bank to the community. We have been contacting banks and having discussions on the possibilities.

As mayor, we will always be looking forward to the future for ideas and solutions to enable Harpers Ferry to be progressive and prosperous. I will continue to uphold the city ordinances, look out for the day-to-day services and safety of our citizens, and be fiscally responsible.

Gibson: Our Booster Club, Fire Department, Historical Society Group, businesses and library offer very good supportive activities for the town. It is of utmost importance to continue these activities and to seek others. Easter, Halloween and Christmas bring great activities for the adults and kids for miles around.

Water is always on the back burner. Currently, we test as some of the best in the state but realize the day will come that we will have to convert to city services.

In your view, what will it take to allow Harpers Ferry to not only survive, but thrive in the future?

Gibson: Continue to do what has been done and keep a watchful eye and ear open for new ideas that will either stabilize what we have or improve our community, if desired by the majority of the people.

Smrcina: The condition of the river is very important to me. Our businesses count on it to be successful, as well as our property owners.  This year, I got to experience how this community comes together to ensure Harpers Ferry is a success through the RAGBRAI project. It was an unbelievable sight on how everyone came out to help, from baking pies and husking sweet corn to manning all the stations needed for RAGBRAI.

Harpers Ferry has been here for over 160 years, and will continue to exist. This community will figure out how or what to change as time passes to continue to thrive.

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