Eligible citizens can cast their vote in the municipal elections Nov. 7. The incumbents running again include Gerd Clabaugh, running for his second term and David Lindeman, for his third term. The new council candidates include Rhonda Martin and James A. Evans. Mayor Paula Dierenfeld is running unopposed for a fifth term and served eight years on city council prior to becoming mayor in 2007.
Dierenfeld tells the “Des Moines Register” her thoughts on what is important today in our community. “Ensuring Johnston has the type and amount of economic growth we need to keep our city and our city finances strong. We have many great employers in Johnston that provide good paying, high quality jobs. We are more focused now than ever before on growing and attracting businesses in Johnston to make sure we have a proper mix of commercial and residential development.” Dierenfeld said. Her top priorities include:
Responsibly managing the city’s budget and revenues. This includes keeping property taxes as low as possible and at the same time wisely spending those tax dollars to provide the services our growing community needs.
Ensuring quality growth by preserving what is good in our community as we plan for future growth. As we continue to grow, we must provide the necessary infrastructure to support that growth, including streets, water mains, sanitary and storm sewers. We must also address the recreational needs of our residents, with parks, trails and other facilities.
Making sure our schools and neighborhoods are safe. Providing for the public safety needs of our residents and businesses, is the most important service we provide.
Gerd Clabaugh is running behind his pride for his community, “Johnston has seen success in supporting good quality jobs, development, and is a great place to raise a family. It’s challenging to maintain a focus on great services, effectively manage growth, while keeping taxes down. But we have had success in Johnston and I look forward to continuing to serve,” He said, “Balancing the demands on public services while managing growth in the city is our biggest challenge. We’ve proven we can do this effectively through partnerships with residents city-wide. Encouraging economic growth while encouraging high quality jobs in the community is also a key priority.” He believes in:
Supporting high quality public safety services.
Continued expansion of park and recreational improvements.
Continued emphasis in keeping our property taxes low.
David Lindeman was brief about what he believed needed to change in Johnston. “(The biggest challenge facing Johnston is)
balancing residential with retail development” He said. To accomplish this, Lindeman wants to:
Keeping taxes as low as possible yet maintain public expectations regarding city services
Balance development between employer needs, resident desires and commercial expansion
Continue to work to make Johnston a destination location with a small town feel
Rhonda wants to make sure the residents of Johnston are being heard. “I love living in Johnston. However, recent development decisions by the City Council appear to show that some important concerns of residents aren’t always heard. If elected I will work hard to protect what makes Johnston special: our neighborhoods, our natural areas and our community spirit,” She said, “Johnston is growing rapidly. Our community is changing and residents are right to think that our “small town” feel is threatened. We need thoughtful growth that respects our existing neighborhoods and protects our natural areas and green spaces.” Her goals include:
Keep Johnston a safe community, especially for children and families, and that starts with safe sidewalks and ways to get to school.
Oppose poorly planned, dense urbanization.
Work hard to stop the state of Iowa from breaking their promise and putting Johnston property taxpayers two million dollars in debt.
James A. Evans doesn’t identify as a politician. “As a Johnston native and lifelong resident, I want to give back and help as we progress into the future with responsible development while preserving the community that has made Johnston what it is known for: a safe, clean and caring community,” Evans said, “In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing Johnston is the rapid growth at the expense of existing residents. Many residents are frustrated and feel the city is more interested in growth rather than preserving and maintaining the existing Johnston community.” He was asked what the biggest challenge facing Johnston is currently. His top priorities include:
Improving communication between the city and the community
Finding ways to attract more restaurants, retail and destination choices
Finding a better balance to location and the impact they will have on the existing neighborhoods.
I spoke to a few voters outside one of the polling locations. “I wanted Johnston to stay kind of a small community that is really focused on family life, so I’m hoping by picking and choosing the right city council, I can have that happen,” Adriana Lagier said.
The turnout this year has been predicted to have improved from years past. At Johnston’s City Hall, cars filled the parking lot. Despite the decent numbers, many voters were able to make it in and out within 10 minutes.
“It’s the only way we have a voice in any matters pertaining to the city or the federal government, so if you don’t express your voice, I feel you don’t have a reason to complain.” Frank Boksa said. He believes it is your duty to vote if you are able.
Updates of the election result will be posted here in the near future.