Meet the candidates for local council, mayor seats

Howard County - The Times Plain Dealer has asked the individuals who are running for mayor or city council in their respective towns to answer a few questions to let the public learn a little more about them.

There are several seats where the winner will be determined by write-in votes, so anyone thinking about running as a write-in should contact Marcie Klomp at the Times, so you too can be introduced to the public.

Answers will appear in this week and next week’s issue. If at all possible, answers from those running for the same seat will be printed together in alphabetical order.

Questions included:

1. Name, spouse, how many children/grandchildren, place of employment.

2. Have you held an office in the past? For what/how long? What did you accomplish?

3. What are the greatest challenges facing your town?

4. What skills or experience will you bring to the mayor/council?

Cresco Mayor

Incumbent Mark Bohle

1. My wife's name is Becky, and we have one son, Phillip. I work at CIA Insurance in insurance sales and investments.

 2. I am currently the mayor of Cresco, having served since 2010. I have been on the Howard County Agricultural Society board  since 1990. I have been on the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission board in Postville and Decorah since 2010. I serve as Chair of the Finance Committee for the Cresco United Methodist Church. I previously served as President of the Cresco Public Library Board and was on that board for 25 years. I have also served on several local boards in the Cresco area over the years.

3. The greatest challenges are continuing to maintain and improve infrastructure (streets, water, sewer) on a limited budget, while keeping rates reasonable for our citizens. These are funded by road use taxes and utility billings, not by property taxes. 

Other challenges are continuing to provide services for our citizens (Police, Fire, Parks, Library, Fitness Center, and the Library), all of which are all funded by property taxes. When the state reduced the commercial property taxes a couple years ago, that means that the residential taxes may be forced to increase in the future to compensate for those lost revenues. The State of Iowa has agreed to cover the commercial property tax shortfall at this time, but that could change in the future. That is a huge concern that all communities in Iowa are struggling with, not just Cresco.

The City must continue with improvements and updating of equipment, as has been done since 2010 and before. By delaying needed improvements to a later date means higher costs and repairs for a future council to have to deal with. Low interest rates have helped fund these improvements through borrowing. Debt payments will drop off again in a couple of years, which will reduce the property tax levy.

 4. I have been mayor for six years. I have been in positions to know how to run meetings efficiently and effectively. I have a financial background in lending and operations to understand budgets and financial statements. I have lived in Cresco for quite a long time and I am involved in the community.

Cresco Mayor

Newcomer Troy Cleveland

1. I am married to Cathy Cleveland, who is a Dispatcher/Jailer at the Howard County Sheriff’s Office. We have a son who is 22 years old. He served four active years in the Air Force and now is in the National Guard and takes classes at Hawkeye in Waterloo. Taylor, our daughter, is a senior in high school this year and works at Country Winds Manor in the Dietary Dept. and also at The Place in Protivin. We own Tanning Unlimited, and I run the business daily for the past five years!

2. I have not held office.

3. I feel the greatest challenges facing Cresco are Property Taxes—which are way too high, lack of businesses in town, the wasteful spending of our tax dollars and street maintenance needs to be improved.

4. I want to cut the budget at least $200,000, to bring in much-needed retail businesses, which will increase revenue and jobs for the town. Try to bring in a family fun center that will have activities for families such as go karts, mini golf, laser tag, outdoor pool with arcade and concession, which will generate revenue and jobs for the town also and have a fun place for families to go.

I want to improve city street maintenance and infrastructure. In the past few years we have seen our taxes continuously go up and nothing to show for it. Local businesses are getting fewer every year. If elected, I will be a mayor who will fight for these things which would improve our town.

Cresco Member-at-Large

Newcomer David Brenno

1. I am running for the At-Large Council position in Cresco. My wife Julie and I have two boys - Logan and Christopher. I am a Territory Manager for Kiefer Trailers.

2. In the past, I was the mayor of Ridgeway, Iowa. I was first elected in 1991, and I held that office until we moved to Cresco in April of 2013. During that time, we maintained a very low property tax amount. We planned and built the Ridgeway Community Center. We were also a major factor in starting the Prairie Farmer Recreation Trail. 

3. Cresco has a lot to offer. I believe that the extremely high property tax amount that Cresco has is a major obstacle. According to the State of Iowa's Dept. of Management, Cresco's portion of the property tax (for 2016) is $18.76 per $1000 of valuation. From highest tax rate to the lowest, that puts us in 41st place out of 946 cities. I feel that the council needs to stay on top of this, and look for ways to minimize this. Another challenge that Cresco faces is the number of empty retail stores on N. Elm St. I believe that this also needs to be a top priority for the community. 

4. I feel that with over 20 years of experience as a mayor, I will fit in well with the current council. I understand how city budgets work, and I feel that I can bring a lot to the table. I have also owned a successful business in the past, and I have worked in the public sector for many years. I want to help make Cresco a great place to live and work.

Cresco Member-at-Large

Incumbent John Loveless

1. I'm running again for the position of Council-Person At Large. I'm married to my best friend/co-worker Peggy.  We own and operate The Cresco Shopper. We have three children (two girls and one  boy) and six grandchildren (five girls and one boy).

2. I've been on the City Council for a while (3rd Ward for 15 years and At-Large for 12 years). Some of the highlights that the City has accomplished are getting the  Cresco Fitness Center/ Thomson Pool operating; to save money, we've cut back on the number of employees without cutting any city services; attempted to button up our sewer system by stopping fresh water  infiltration (which we have to treat like sewage); replacing water lines  and looping them, so we have fresher water with greater pressure throughout the system; fix our streets that are deteriorated and doing upkeep on the ones that are on the line; as a Council we've worked very hard to keep our credit rating low, so we can get loans at low percentage rates (Cresco has one of the best credit ratings for a city of this size in the state of Iowa), this way we can get more "bang for the buck!"

3. Some of the greatest challenges facing Cresco are state and federal dollars drying up. We have to make do with less every year. We're always trying to think outside the box to keep from cutting back on city  services without hiking taxes. We've got a great council that work  together as a team, plus the town is blessed with the greatest employees a town could get. We've got a few good ideas that will be coming to fruition in the next few years and I'd like to see the "Team" stay together!

4. I've been on the Cresco City Council for 27 years and have tried to use a common sense approach on how to do things. I bring experience to the table with a memory of what has been done already. George Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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