This fall’s general election is Tuesday, Nov. 5, and will feature both city and school elections. In the days and weeks leading up to Election Day, the Times Citizen will publish profiles of candidates from each of the communities in the coverage area.
Following are the candidates are running for office in the Iowa Falls area - for City Council, Iowa Falls School Board, Hansen Family Hospital Board, and Iowa Falls Park Board.
Barring a last-minute write-in campaign, there won’t be any surprises in the Iowa Falls city election results on Election Day next month.
The mayoral race features incumbent Gene Newgaard, who was first elected to office in 2013, is seeking his fourth two-year term. He will go unchallenged.
Council members Michelle Gritsch, Roger Nissly and Bruce Thies are also seeking re-election to office, and all are running unopposed. Thies is the longest-tenured member of the Council, having first been elected in 2007. Nissly has served two four-year terms. And Gritsch is seeking her second term after first being elected in 2015. All three also ran unopposed four years ago.
Occupation: Lecturer, English Department, Iowa State University
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “I want to continue helping Iowa Falls grow and develop. There have been a lot of good things accomplished in the last six years and I want to do my part in seeing that continue.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “My previous three terms serving as mayor, in addition to living in Iowa Falls my entire life, and serving on various boards and commissions dealing with various aspects of the community.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re re-elected?: “I want to see the city do what it can to bring in more businesses, expand our housing and recreational opportunities. The completion of our new city hall will help enable us to put our best foot forward with businesses looking to locate in our community and additional housing and recreational opportunities will attract new residents to supply the needed workforce for new businesses.”
Occupation: Co-Owner/Operator of the Iowa Falls Pizza Ranch
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “I have enjoyed my first term serving the community and constantly learning something new. I like to finish things I start, and while there will always be projects in progress, I really want to see the new city hall building project through to its completion.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “As a local business owner I need to serve my guests, support my employees and manage my business to be successful. The same holds true with being a city councilperson.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re re-elected?: “Most immediately completing the new city hall building, finding and drilling a new water well and bridge repairs. Many of the issues that the council has to deal with are not planned, like creating an ambulance service, as a city councilperson it is my responsibility to make sure that whatever decisions are made, that they are what is in the best interest of the citizens of Iowa Falls now and in the future.”
Occupation: Accountant, Nissly & Nissly
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “There have been some new projects that have been started during my recent term on the council and I am looking forward to seeing them to completion.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I have served eight years on the council and serve on other boards in the city of Iowa Falls.”
What are your plans for the council if you’re re-elected?: “No specific plans. I just want to serve the citizens of Iowa Falls and give back to our community. In my capacity as city council member I always try to make decisions that are best for our great community.”
Occupation: Independent Contractor for FedEx Ground
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “I really enjoy working with and for the residents of Iowa Falls. I feel it is very important that I see that our tax dollars are spent wisely. We have a lot of projects going on and I want to keep a close eye on them until they are completed.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I have been a business owner for the past 24 years and I manage 21 full-time employees, so I understand the importance of making good business decisions and making sure we stay within budget.”
No matter what happens on Election Day, there will be new representation on the Iowa Falls School Board. There are three seats up for grabs on the Board.
Current Board members Dave Gimer, who is finishing out his second four-year term, and Mike Behrhorst, who was first elected in 2015, have decided not to seek re-election. Their colleague, Board member Chris Stauffer, is running for his second term. Stauffer is joined on the ballot by three newcomers: Matt Hill, Jack Kobe and Dawn Parker. Voters will have four names before them, and just three seats to fill.
In addition to these profiles, the candidates for school board participated in a candidate forum on Oct. 28. Find a story about that event here.
Occupation: Automotive Services Manager for Theisen’s Home Farm Auto
Why did you decide to run for election?: “My wife and I have three children who graduated from Iowa Falls and three more current high school students who have all had great experiences in our district. This is an opportunity to give back to the school system and help ensure we continue to grow and prepare students for future success.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I have spent the last 26 years living and working in the Iowa Falls community building relationships and understanding some of the unique opportunities and challenges we face. Attending the school board meetings, I have seen first-hand the challenges they are faced with. I feel my business experience could help sort through the responsibility of making sure we take care of all of the districts resources.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “There are some large projects being discussed at the board meetings, I would want to work closely with our superintendent and other board members as we explore all options. Talking with the community to ensure accurate information is being shared would also be a priority, being a transparent leader for our schools is critical as we move forward.”
Occupation: Business Unit Leader, Centrum Valley Farms
Why did you decide to run for election?: “This community is a great community. We’ve got a great school district, support staff, and I want to be able to give back and help develop our programs. I think the things happening and the change – in the high school level with some of the programs that Tony (Neumann) instituted before becoming superintendent, the things that Ryan (Robison) did at Pineview with Leader in Me and watching those kids as you walk in there and they lead you around – there’s a lot of positive things happening in the Iowa Falls School District.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I was on the Bethany Lutheran Church Board and had been with youth football for 18 years. I’ve been involved with the youth of the community. My job itself, being a steward of financials for our ownership group (at Centrum Valley Farms), understanding P&Ls (profit and loss statements), and understanding the cost of things. I think that my knowledge of that would definitely come into play.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “The last two years I served on the parent student advisory board and it’s very interesting to me what we’re doing with our test scores, how we are evaluating them, how they continue to grow. I think we had one that slipped down a little bit, but the goals that our schools have for reading and math and science are very lofty goals and they have researched very well, from my viewpoint, the academic side of it . . . They’re trying to get scores and kids prepared for the future.
“I want our school district to be able to have an environment where the kids enjoy learning. That when they get done with high school they’re like, ‘When I get done with college I want to come back and give back.’ I want it to be exciting. We’ve got to make learning enjoyable to the point that kids want to come back and be part of this community.”
Occupation: Retired Teacher (K-5 special education), former student success coach and former substitute teacher
Why did you decide to run for election?: “I feel I have the experience and education and I can bring knowledge and experience to the board from another perspective as an educator. And we’ve had two children go through the district. I’ve worked in all four buildings as a teacher or a sub and I feel like my experience as educator will help me. I’m involved in many community activities and I think it’s important to be a community members as well as someone who has an interest in the students and education. I think it’s important for the community to support the school and the schools to support the community.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I think knowledge of the educational process is something that would help me. I’m willing to listen to both sides of an issue. I feel like I’m open-minded, I’m open to communication from people in the community and in the school district. I feel it’s important to question things if they’re not understood. I think communication is very important and I think our district has had strong communication for many years and I want that to continue. The district has done many good things and I think that can be expanded. Some of the changes that have come about and some of the good things that are going on right now need to continue.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “As a candidate, I have no specific agenda or concerns about our district. I have seen first-hand the many accomplishments of our district. My goal as a board member would be to encourage our district to continue with the educational initiatives that are in place that strive for excellence, as well as consider others that may further improve our educational programs.”
Occupation: Financial Advisor, Cornerstone Financial Services
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “Four years ago I ran as a way to give back to my community, with seven children enrolled in the Iowa Falls School District, my wife and I want to see the district grow and provide the best education possible. I decided to run again this year because I firmly believe that we have built some momentum in where this district is going. I have been very vocal the past four years about building “Cadet Pride” once again and that is happening is a big way. I want to continue to be a voice in moving that forward.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “Over my career, I have had many opportunities to be part of process improvement projects, budgeting discussions, and large-scale project management. What I have found out over the past four years being on the board is that all of this experience has proven very valuable.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re re-elected?: “Same as the last four years, listen, listen, listen! Things get done when we all work together, when we can visit at the Coffee Attic and share ideas, when we are willing to hear why certain ideas will not work and why some will. It does not work when we go out and complain on social media but won’t talk to those involved.
“I want to see a stronger partnership between the city, Ellsworth College, and the Iowa Falls School District. We all play a huge role in the future growth of the community. We all need to work together to figure out how we get new businesses to look at coming to Iowa Falls, to get families to want to make this their home, and provide solid reasons to stay here.”
HANSEN FAMILY HOSPITAL BOARD
There will likely be no surprises on the HFH Board. Three incumbents - Quinn Hoversten, Steve Howard and Marianne Jones - are all running unopposed for re-election.
Why did you decide to run for election?: “I enjoy being involved in my hometown community.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “I’ve been involved with the Hospital Foundation Board for about eight years, and I am currently the Chair. Through my association with that group, Mike Stensland asked me to take over the remainder of his term on the Board of Trustees when he moved out of town. The Board appointed me as an interim trustee about a year and a half ago.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “I look forward to continuing to support the hospital’s ability to best serve my community, now and into the future.”
Occupation: Auto Dealer
Why did you decide to run for election?: “After serving on the hospital board for the past 12 years, I feel that we are really headed in a good direction, and would like to see us continue to grow and provide excellent medical services to our guests from the markets we serve.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “Twelve years of hospital board experience, along with 44 years involvement in our family-owned and run industry, along with volunteer activity on several other boards.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “Continue to support our management team as they navigate through the challenges they encounter in today’s ever changing health care industry.”
Occupation: Retired RN
Why did you decide to run for election?: “I decided to run for election because I have always been interested in health care and I strongly believe we need a hospital in Iowa Falls. I would like to maintain the quality services that we can provide through Hansen Family Hospital.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “My experiences are 35 years of health care in Iowa Falls as a nurse at Ellsworth Hospital and Iowa Falls school nurse.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “Plans for the board if elected are to focus on the importance of a hospital in our community. We need to continue providing great care and services for our patients and the community while continuing to address the financial challenges of rural critical care hospitals.”
IOWA FALLS PARK BOARD
The Iowa Falls Park Board, like the HFH Board, features only incumbents running for re-election. They are Jim Gillespie and Peg Van Buskirk.
Occupation: Vice President of Cam Spray/Campbell Supply Co.
Why did you decide to run for election?: “I have been on the Board of Park and Recreation since 2008, my first years were to fill a vacant position. Growing up in Iowa Falls and raising a family here I came to understand and appreciate how blessed Iowa Falls and Hardin County residents are with recreational opportunities. The acres and number of parks, the Iowa River and the Meyer Aquatic Center is unique for a community of this size. The recreation programs provided by the Park and Recreation department give opportunities to our families and children that otherwise would not be available. The early leaders of Iowa Falls established the Board of Parks and Recreation with one goal in mind, to do all things possibly necessary to preserve the parks, swimming pool and leisure time activities of all city residents. That vision many years ago is why the Park Board exists why we all are able to continue to enjoy the parks and recreation opportunities in Iowa Falls.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “My career has given me opportunities to work with employees and customers from all over North America. Every day there are decisions to make that will call us to be fair and honest while considering the overall good of the organization. This process always makes us consider things from all viewpoints and how they relate to our mission, and most importantly not just our own.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “To continue to help protect and improve park properties and recreational programs working with city officials and the residents of Iowa Falls. We all know that our wish lists are always bigger than our budget, but with vision, good planning and fundraising we can preserve and improve our parks and programs.”
Peg Van Buskirk
Occupation: Retired Ellsworth Community College professor
Why did you decide to run for re-election?: “There are some things that I would like to finish. The main one is we keep talking and doing things about Riverbend Park, but so far nothing has actually happened and I would like them to happen.”
What experience or qualifications do you have for the job?: “When they asked me to run I said ‘I don’t know an ash from an oak,’ and they said it doesn’t matter, as long as you have a mind and you can make decisions, you’ll be fine. I enjoy it.”
What are your plans for the board if you’re elected?: “To see Riverbend Park finished. That’s my main goal. Each of us have a park or two we’re in charge of watching to see that everything is A-OK. It’s a good group."