Story City candidates participate in public forum

Ronna Faaborg Staff Writer
Candidates for the Story City city election participate in a public forum on Thursday at Fairview Lodge. Barb Pedersen (left) from the League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County was moderator for the event, which asked questions of (left to right) incumbent city council members Chris Crutchfield, Karl Ostrem and Connie Phillips and newcomer Norman Spurlock. The four candidates are competing for three at-large seats on the council. Photo by Ronna Faaborg/Ames Tribune

The League of Women Voters of Ames and Story County held a public forum Thursday for candidates in Story City’s Nov. 5 city election.

Three incumbents and one newcomer are vying for three at-large seats on the City Council.

Karl Ostrem and Connie Phillips have both served on the council since 2016. Chris Crutchfield has served since 2017, when he was appointed to take the vacancy created by the retirement of Becky Watson. Norman Spurlock, the newcomer in the group, is also campaigning for a position on the council.

All four candidates are long-time residents of Story City, each with decades of time living in the community and each boasts a wealth of community involvement and public service.

For example, Crutchfield served more than 10 years on the volunteer fire department. Ostrem has owned and sold four businesses that all served customers in Story City. Phillips has long been active on the Greater Chamber Connection and ran a downtown furniture store with her husband. Spurlock has a long history in public safety, including the Story City and Iowa State University campus police departments.

The forum, which was held at Fairview Lodge in Story City, was not well attended by the public, but members of the LWV asked a variety of questions of the panel.

Mary Sands, with the LWV, asked the candidates what they consider pressing issues in the community.

Ostrem said the refurbishing of the wastewater treatment plant is high on the list. The council has been planning for the past couple years for the $10 million project, which will be completed during the next few years.

The need for the project is due to requirements by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, he said.

“It’s one of those things where you flush your stool and you take it for granted,” Ostrem said. “But there’s a lot to it.”

Phillips added that available housing is an important issue in the community. A new housing development is currently being constructed north of the elementary, and Story City needs to continue to pursue opportunities for building homes, partly because the community also needs workers.

“Our unemployment is almost nil,” Phillips said, adding that a goal is to get as many employees to move to town as possible. “In order to do this, we need housing.”

Crutchfield agreed with Phillips’ assessment that Story City needs more housing, and that need ties closely to infrastructure.

“We need more housing to bring in new businesses,” he said. More businesses and more housing require the city to have proper infrastructure in place, and the updated wastewater treatment plant is a good example of that.

Spurlock said a pressing issue is a county-wide lack of ambulance service.

Spurlock offered the example that a recent ambulance call on Timberland in Story City was answered by Huxley Ambulance because Mary Greeley’s ambulances were not available. Spurlock was on the Story City ambulance service for 10 years.

“We’ve got a great first responder,” he said. But if CPR is necessary, that first responder and that patient have a long time to wait for an ambulance from the south part of the county.

“Should Story City be at the mercy of Mary Greeley? That’s a possibility of something the city could take on itself,” Spurlock said.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the Nov. 5 election.