—by Todd Thorson

Residents of Roland and Story City will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5 to vote for candidates that will serve their communities in various capacities as council members, or as, in the case of Story City, mayor. Though the races are uncontested, there are some new faces that will make up the two towns’ councils after the voting is completed. Turn out for Tuesday’s election is expected to be light in both communities.

Matt Triggs is running unopposed for one of two positions on the Story City Council, along with incumbent Dave Sporleder. Current council member Jeff Crisman decided not to seek re-election. Mayor Mike Jensen is seeking re-election in Story City and is running unopposed as well.

In Roland, former council members Chad Proctor and Jeri Neely resigned from their positions last November and January, respectively. Current council member Duane Canny has decided not to seek re-election. Brian Hill joined the council when Neely stepped down and is running unopposed to fill a two-year vacancy position (Chad Proctor’s previous seat). Newcomer Andrew Webb is running for one of two four-year positions on the Roland council, along with Jerry Balmer. Balmer took Chad Proctor’s position via appointment last November, and is now running to fill former council woman Jeri Neely’s expiring four year term. Webb is seeking to fill Canny’s seat on the council. Roland’s mayor position is not on this year’s ballot, but the two-year term of current mayor Roger Fritz is expiring. A write in campaign will take place, with the council prepared to appoint a willing candidate by virtue of the results that are compiled following the election. Fritz has agreed to continue as mayor, however, if his name appears at the top of the write in results.

Polling places include: Story City - Bertha Bartlett Public Library, 503 Broad Street; Roland/Howard Township - Roland Area Community Center, 208 N. Main Street; and Lafayette Township - Harvest Evangelical Free Church, 524 River Hills Drive, Story City. Polls are open on Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

While the candidates may have different views and reasons for running for the various city positions, they are all eager to take on each of their respective community’s responsibilities of making a better quality of life for all of their constituents.

Three questions were presented to the candidates, including: 1. What do you view as the most immediate needs facing the community, and what role do you feel the city should take in meeting those challenges? 2. What is your long-term vision for the community? 3. Why did you decide to seek a council seat or seek re-election, and what will your top priorities be for the term you serve?

The candidates’ background information and responses follow:

Mike Jensen

Background

Mike is 70 years old and graduated from Story City High School in 1961. He holds a certificate in Civil Engineering Technologies from NICET and served during the Vietnam War as a Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy aboard the Destroyer USS Goodrich. Mike worked for over 40 years at the Iowa Department of Transportation, first as a land surveyor for two years and the remaining years in the engineering department. He retired in 2006 as a Highway Design Specialist.

Mike resides at 406 Pennsylvania with his wife of 47 years, Patsy. They have two married sons, Craig and wife Andrea, and granddaughter Savannah; and Brian and wife Charlotte, and granddaughter Brittany and her husband Shea, and grandsons Casey and Dakota.

Mike is a member of the Greater Community Congress (Chamber) and has served on the Design Committee. He is also President of the Story City Trees Forever and a member of the Izaak Walton League, National Rifle Association, Arbor Day Foundation, Grace United Methodist Church, Roland-Story Athletic Boosters and the Roland-Story School Foundation. He also serves on the Story County Mayors Association, Story County Emergency Management, Story City Emergency Management and the Story County Assessors budget meetings.

Mike served on the Story City Council for 31 years, from January 1979 to January 2010, before having the honor of serving as Story City’s Mayor since 2010.

Responses

I feel an immediate need facing the Story City community is to implement an Emergency Management Plan. We do not have an official emergency management plan, with assigned people in key positions, if such an emergency should strike, such as an F-4 tornado, an explosion or fire, flood, gas leak, or a train accident with a hazardous chemical spill. In the past we have relied on our fire and police departments to handle the situation and they have done a good job. However, with the severity and frequency of more disasters and major storms it is advisable to have a plan to activate people to begin immediately handling any situation. It would be a major task to secure a large area or the entire community. In such a situation, communication, resources and personnel must be available and be able to coordinate with Story County Emergency Management to help obtain the needed resources. We have been working with Story County Emergency Management developing such a plan for Story City. The city needs to obtain the suggested equipment, personnel and supplies, and conduct exercises with Story County Emergency Management until we are adequately prepared.

My long-term vision for our community is to continue to provide the many amenities we now enjoy; the high quality city services, controlled growth and striving to keep our wonderful small town atmosphere. We must keep the "great working relationship" we now enjoy between our city government, city departments, economic development corporation, chamber, all of our community service organizations, churches, schools, library and the many wonderful volunteers. We need to maintain the businesses in the community, while keeping taxes low. With this accomplished, Story City will always remain a wonderful place to live, work and raise our families.

I decided to seek re-election as mayor because I love the Story City community. Born in Story City and living here all of my life, serving 31 years on the council and almost four years now as mayor, I would like to put the experience I have gained into helping this city prosper and become an even better community. My top priorities will be, as they always have been, to listen to the wants and needs of people, work hard to keep the city always looking to the future and to find better ways of doing city business, while always representing the community to the best of my abilities.

Dave Sporleder

Background

Dave is from a family of eight children and grew up on a farm near Lake City, Iowa. He graduated from Lake City High School in 1969 and received an associate degree in agriculture from Iowa State University in 1971. He married Gail Twedt of Story City in 1972 and they have two sons, Matthew and Michael. Matt and his wife Kim reside in Story City as well, with their two children. Mike and wife Jessica live in Altoona and have a son. They are expecting another child in February.

Responses

I think we need to be proactive in seeking businesses to keep the city vital and growing at a steady rate. If you are not growing, you are shrinking. The city works well with the Economic Development Corporation and the Chamber to create many opportunities to grow.

We also need to upgrade our swimming pool and park system. I don’t think we need an aquatic center like Ames and Nevada, but we do need a nice pool with a few things like zero entry and maybe a new slide or two. The park system is nice, but we need more shelters and picnic areas for our families to use.

I decided to seek re-election because I want to give back to the community that I live in. I am very proud of this community. And keeping the city clean and safe are my priorities for the future.

Matt Triggs

Background

Matt is married to Brandi and they have a four year old son named Cooper. He was born in Storm Lake, Iowa in 1973 and graduated from high school there in 1991. Matt served in the Navy from 1991 to 1994 and attended Iowa State University off and on from 1994 to 1998. He has been in the construction business for most of his life. Matt is currently the COO and one of the principal owners of Absolute Concrete, Greentech of Iowa, Absolute Group and Absolute Farms, all out of Slater, Iowa. He is active in the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Iowa and has served on their Political Action Committee (PAC) and the Iowa Concrete Paving Association (ICPA). Matt is also one of the Board of Directors for the ICPA and is the chair for the Municipal Committee.

Responses

I think Story City is a great, progressive small town. And my challenge will be to keep it that way. Small towns have been a dying breed in Iowa. The city’s role should be to continue what they are doing and what has to be done to keep it thriving for years to come. I want Story City to continue to show growth and to remain the great town that it is for people to live. I feel my life and business experiences can help the city. Top priorities will be to learn as much as I can about Story City and bring experiences and ideas to the table to help it grow.

Jerry Balmer

Background

Jerry is 42 years old and graduated from Roland-Story in 1989. He graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in MIS and Finance and has spent 12 years in the Iowa National Guard. He currently works for ISU as a Systems Analyst in the Parks Library. Jerry is married to Mindi and they have two children, Bailey 15 and Tristan 13. He is currently on the Roland City Council and the Britson Park Board.

Responses

The most immediate need facing Roland is the sewer trunk line and the sewer improvements. The system we currently have is extremely dated, insufficient and will soon be required to be updated. I also want to keep Roland an active community, with lots of reasons for young families to want to raise their kids here. We also need to continue with Roland’s "youth friendly" reputation and help in any way we can to enhance that.

I feel I am at a point in my life where I can serve the community I grew up in and try and give back to them. I think we have started to do some good things this past year, and would like to continue and finish those projects. I want to assist the community in making Roland a great place to live and raise a family.

Andrew Webb

Background

Andrew moved to Roland in June 2012, after retiring from 32 years as a pastor in the Free Methodist Church. He is married to wife Margie and together they wanted to retire closer to their family, which includes a son just two and a half blocks away in Roland. Andrew and Margie are natives of California and really enjoy living in Roland, despite the climate shock. Now retired, Andrew has time to devote to his community and become active in Roland’s well being. He has 12 years experience in public education as a teacher, director of curriculum and as an elementary school principal. Through the years Andrew has served four years on the Empire Union School district board of education and was the co-founder and president of the Twin Lakes Food Bank, which serves about 2,500 people each month. Currently, Andrew is a member of the Harvest E-Free Church and the Roland Kiwanis. Having been a Kiwanian for 38 years, he has served as club president and Lt. Governor. Andrew has also worked as a Story County election official.

Responses

I have no agenda other than the fact that I love our new community and I am willing to devote the time to use my experience to serve the people of Roland, and to help work through the issues that are before us. The biggest issue that I have become aware of is the need to upgrade the sewer system so that no more homes will face flooding in their basements after a major storm. This will be an expensive fix, but I believe we must seek a solution that will continue to meet the needs of our community for many years into the future. The council has a good plan and the issue now is how best to fund the project.

What does the future hold for Roland? This is a great place for people to live. We have a strong school system and a great history, but before us is the need to bring new business into our town. How can we encourage new businesses our way? Another important project is the completion of the Britson Park and Athletic Complex. We are so close and now is the time to see the project completed. Do I have all the answers? No. But I am a good listener and ready to invest the time necessary to work with the long-standing leaders to see our community move forward and prosper.

Brian Hill

Brian is currently serving on the Roland Council and took over the council position when Jeri Neely stepped down in January. He works for Hall Backhoe and Trenching company. He is seeking election to fill out the remaining two years left on former council member Chad Proctor’s term. Brian did not submit any responses to the Herald’s questions, and a photo was not made available.