Vote

This fall’s general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 5, and will feature both city council and school board elections. In the days/weeks leading up to voting day, the Times Citizen will publish profiles of candidates from each of the communities in the coverage area.

Today's candidates are running for office in the Alden area - for City Council and School Board.

CITY

The Alden city elections will include a mayoral race as well as four candidates seeking three seats on the City Council. Alden Mayor Jeff Fiscus is being challenged by Harley Mourlam, while Council incumbents Jerry Hartema and Mike Oliver are joined in the Council race by Jeff Heinzeroth and Mark Oliver. Heinzeroth has past experience serving on the Alden City Council.

MAYOR

Jeff Fiscus

Jeff Fiscus

Jeff Fiscus

Occupation: Head Custodian for Iowa Falls and Alden schools

Age: 63

Why are you running for re-election?: “I’ve been the mayor in Alden for 32 years. I want to see the town continue to prosper and grow. Seeing things continue to happen in the community.”

What in-office accomplishments are you most proud of?: “The water tower installation was important. In 2008, we experienced flooding. That resulted in getting some aid and financing to re-do our sewer system to keep water from backing up in people’s basement. I have plenty of experience and work well with members of the community.”

What are your plans if you’re re-elected?: “Keep the school system here and bring in other businesses if possible.”

Harley Mourlam

Harley Mourlam

Harley Mourlam

Occupation: Self-employed carpenter

Age: 62

Why are you running for election?: “In my opinion, there needs to be some improvements made with our city council, and how everyone communicates with each other. I think I can be of help in that area.”

What qualifications do you have to do the job?: “I’ve been a businessman for 30-plus years. If I can run a business, I believe I can help run the city.”

What are your plans if elected?: “Improving working relations between the council members. I also think the town needs to expand in some areas that have been neglected and focus on some community improvement projects.”

CITY COUNCIL

Jerry Hartema

Jerry Hartema

Jerry Hartema

Occupation: Electrical Contractor

Age: 51

Why are you running for reelection?: “I would like to continue to help improve our community. I’ve enjoyed my time on the council, and I’ve lived in Alden for most of my life.”

What in-office accomplishments are you most proud of?: “Being on the council for four years have given me experience. I have experience running a business (Iowa Central Electric), so I believe that helps my decision-making on the city council.”

What are your plans for city council if you’re re-elected?: “I really want to improve our city streets, and clean up the nuisance abatement properties in our community. We’ve been talking with that for awhile, and it’s time to focus on that.”

Jeff Heinzeroth

Jeff Heinzeroth

Jeff Heinzeroth

Occupation: Farmer

Age: 57

Why are you running for election?: “I’m running for Alden City Council because I feel it is time to offer some new opinions and fresh ideas.”

What experience or qualifications will help you do a good job?: “I feel I’m qualified to fill a Council seat since I’ve previously held a Council position and I understand the importance of watching cost/value of citizens’ money.”

What are your plans if elected?: “I’d like to continue to care for and upgrade the city’s infrastructure, enforce the city ordinances and not micro-manage the city employees. I think Main Street is in need of repairs and I’d like to see Alden kept clean and free of clutter. I feel we have a valuable, hard-working and caring city team.”

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver

Mark Oliver

Occupation: Hardin County Secondary Roads Assistant Roads Superintendent

Age: 38

Why are you running for election?: “Because I care about the community and the way things are handled.”

What experience or qualifications will help you do a good job?: “Dealing with people with my job with the county helps me. Solving problems is something I can be of help with on the city council.”

What are your plans if elected?: “Uphold what the previous council has been doing. Continue to get the community cleaned up. I think they’ve done a good job. I want to keep things going. I thought Steve Hunt (council member not seeking another term) did a good job and I want to continue that.”

Mike Oliver

Mike Oliver

Mike Oliver

Occupation: Self-employed welder 

Age: 65

Why are you running for re-election?: “I’m running for several reasons: one, because I want to continue working with the project to re-build the bridge. It’s something we have started, and I’d like to see it through. We are also working on updating our zoning laws, and I want to work with the county representatives to make sure the laws fit the people of Alden, and if there need to be changes, to make those changes. We have some changes coming up at the swimming pool, with getting a new boiler, and that’s another area I hope to help with. I also hope to continue the good working relationships I have with our city employees.”

What in-office accomplishments are you most proud of?: “Two of the biggest things we’ve improved in the city are our campground and the permanent stage in the park. The campground is full or nearly full most weekends during the summer, and the stage area is used frequently for weddings, as well as community activities.”

What are your plans for city council if you’re reelected?: “To continue to improve our town, to work to promote more businesses, and to represent the people of Alden the best I can.”

***

 

SCHOOL BOARD

No matter how the voters in the Alden School District cast their ballots, change will come to the school board.

That became official when two of the three incumbent board members up for re-election — Marcela Hoversten and Kyle Janes — decided to not seek another term on the board.

A third Alden board member, Jon Bartlett, will be joined in the race by newcomers Chris Barber, Brock Puffett, Kari Scholte and Heather Vierkandt.

Voters will vote for up to three candidates on the ballot from the five candidates.

Chris Barber

Chris Barber

Chris Barber

Occupation: Interpretive Park Manager at Calkins Nature Area

Age: 39

Why did you decide to run for election?: “To serve the community. I feel like my background and experience can be useful and I believe I could do a good job in that role.”

What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I grew up the son of a teacher, so I was always around education. Working, through my job [at Calkins], is environmental education.

“I work with a lot of different boards with my job so I’m used to the process. I’ve been serving on the Ellsworth College Conservation Technology Program Advisory Board for the last six years. I work with the Friends of Calkins, Hardin County Conservation Board, Ellsworth Trustees and the ECC Foundation at various times.

“I’ve served on the Alden School Improvement Advisory Committee for multiple years. I also have experience in managing budgets, grant writing, facility management, government bid processes and working with contractors.”

What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “My biggest thing would be to put students first in whatever decisions the board makes. Making sure that we are creating the best education possible for them. A big part of that is taking care of our teachers. Also, we have a responsibility to the community to set tax rates. Do the best to set up our future leaders to serve the community well.”

Jon Bartlett

Jon Bartlett

Jon Bartlett

Occupation: Farmer

Age: 43

Why are you running for reelection?: “It’s a blessing to have the opportunities we have in this district, to live with the people that live here, and to have the chance to pass that on to our children. Although the school board is focused on the educational aspect of serving our community, I believe that by serving as best we can in that capacity, we also have the ability to positively impact other areas of our students’ and families’ lives. If this can be one small way to do my part, then it makes it worth running for reelection.”

What in-office accomplishments are you most proud of?: “During the last four years, we’ve transitioned to a new superintendent and principal, made changes to adjust to the Iowa Falls sixth-graders not attending Alden anymore, implemented a “wish list” program to fund some of our teachers’ classroom needs, and remodeled the old ‘home ec’ room into a Maker Space room. These are a handful of the accomplishments that have been achieved through the collaboration of many people. It’s been a privilege for me to be able to be a small part of the process.”

What are your plans if you’re re-elected?: “I know that enrollment, funding, stewardship of taxpayer money, quality teachers/curriculum, etc. are always near the top of the list, as they should be. I would also submit that some of the biggest challenges we face now have nothing to do with reading/writing/arithmetic. Navigating through federal/state laws that we may not agree with on a local level, dealing with discipline issues, making sure kids are clothed/fed properly, working with broken homes, and giving extra help to kids, where needed, are issues our teachers/staff deal with daily. We need to support them in that. We also need to continue working with the Iowa Falls district, as we are now, wherever there are advantages in doing so. Examples of this are sharing a superintendent and/or other staff positions, collaboration of ideas between teachers/staff in all of the buildings, and alignment of curriculums and programs between both districts so that, when our kids join together in seventh grade, they are ‘on the same page.’ Good communication is important. We have talented, caring people that try hard in our building. If I can help make a difference in the small things, it can (hopefully) go a long way in helping the big things fall into place. Our students and families are worth the effort.”

Brock Puffett

Brock Puffett

Brock Puffett

Occupation: Supervisor for Seaboard Foods

Age: 30

Why did you decide to run for election?: “To give back to the community and help out the teachers and administration at our school.”

What experience or qualifications will help you do a good job?: “I feel like I’m capable of managing a large group of people and striving to get the best out of them in any situation.”

What are your plans if elected?: “Making sure teachers are taken care of and getting things they want and need for their classrooms to be more effective.”

Kari Scholte

Kari Scholte

Kari Scholte

Occupation: Registered Nurse at Iowa Falls Clinic

Age: 37

Why did you decided to run for election?: “I grew up in Alden, I graduated from Alden High School, my children have attended Alden schools. I want to see the kids get the best education that I can.”

What experience or qualifications will help you do a good job?: “I don’t have any experience when it comes to the school board, I just look forward to coming into it — if elected — with an open mind and learning.”

What are your plans if elected?: “I don’t have an agenda. My goal is focusing on the kids getting a good education and the school having a balanced budget. I would love to see the Alden school remain in place as long as it possibly can as long as we are providing the kids with a good education and we are financially sound.”

Heather Vierkandt

Heather Vierkandt

Heather Vierkandt

Occupation: Stay-at-home mom; Buckeye city clerk

Age: 37

Why did you decide to run for election?: “I have four kids — three currently attending school — and the other coming into the school system. Their education is important to me.”

What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I am the city clerk in Buckeye, so I have knowledge of how certain processes work. I would like to learn about how the school system works and operates. If we don’t do a good job as parents, teachers and as a community to raise our kids,they don’t get to be responsible adults.”

What are your plans if elected?: “Since I’m new at this, I don’t have anything in mind. My primary goal is to learn about how the school’s finances work. The finances make a difference in how we can provide an education to our kids”

An earlier version of this story stated that absentee in-person voting would be available at the courthouse on two Saturdays this month. That information, which was published on the official Hardin County website, was incorrect. Voting will not be available on Saturdays this month.

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