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Govt-and-politics
Two incumbents ousted in Waterloo City Council election

WATERLOO — Voters put three new faces on the Waterloo City Council and sent two incumbents packing Tuesday in an election that could shake up the dynamics in City Hall.

Challenger Sharon Juon trounced incumbent at-large Councilman Tom Lind, while Margaret Klein clipped incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Tom Powers, based on unofficial totals from the Black Hawk County Election Office.

First-time candidate Chris Shimp defeated Cody Leistikow in the race to replace longtime Ward 5 Councilman Ron Welper, who did not seek re-election.

Ward 3 Councilman Pat Morrissey retained his seat, winning by a comfortable margin over first-time candidate April Leadley.

Mayor Quentin Hart, who was elected to his second term while running unopposed, will be working with a different council starting in January.

“New faces and new opportunities,” Hart said. “Each person brings a unique set of skills, and we’ll be looking for ways to get them engaged.

“Hats off to all the winners; running for public office is not easy,” he added. “And congratulations to those who have served but are leaving as well.”

Juon, who won the only contested citywide race on the ballot this year, won in a landslide over Lind by a vote of 4,814 to 2,188.

“I think I had a message that appealed to a majority of the people,” Juon said. “My position needs to represent the entire community, and the entire community got behind me and worked to make sure I can represent them.”

Juon ran an aggressive campaign that challenged Lind’s votes on several downtown development projects. She also campaigned on the need for more civility in City Hall.

“My hope is that all of the council people want to advance the interest of Waterloo,” she said. “We all need to demonstrate that to show we can work together.”

Lind did not return a call for comment.

Juon and Klein will bring two women to what is currently an all-male City Council when they’re seated in January.

Klein, who lost by 48 votes to Powers in a July 2016 special election to fill the Ward 1 council seat, turned the results around to win by 49 votes Tuesday, 1,029 votes to 980.

“My opponent had one thing right, and that’s his slogan,” Klein said. “People want progress and not politics.”

Klein vowed to cut property taxes throughout her campaign and said she believes she can work with the other election winners “to move Waterloo forward.”

Powers said he had no regrets about his effort.

“It was a win for me no matter what,” Powers said. “I like talking to people, and I think I ran a great campaign, but the voters didn’t see it that way.

“I wish Margaret luck and wish her well,” he added. “I don’t have any hard feelings.”

Shimp defeated Leistikow, 841 to 728, to win the Ward 5 council seat in a battle between two younger men making their first bids for public office.

“It was a tough race,” Shimp said. “Cody Leistikow did a great job, and he’s a very good competitor.

“We need to get to work doing some things to move Waterloo forward,” Shimp added. “I think there’s going to be some different ideologies on things. But at the end of the day I hope we can all work together to move Waterloo forward.”

Leistikow said it felt good to follow through with the campaign but felt his opponent had three years’ head start in the race based on Shimp’s involvement in several boards and volunteer groups.

“Beyond that it seems people want a little bit different direction in Waterloo,” he said. “I really like the direction we were going.”

Morrissey was the only incumbent to win, defeating Leadley 920-338 to keep the Ward 3 council seat. Councilmen Steve Schmitt, Bruce Jacobs and Jerome Amos Jr. were not up for re-election.

“I’m ecstatic with getting this kind of vote,” Morrissey said. “Evidently (voters) feel I’m doing a good job, and I plan to continue that.”

Morrissey said he was concerned about the outcome of other races.

“Tom (Powers) is a big loss for Waterloo with all the connections he has for development,” he said. “It changes the dynamic. I don’t know what that does for the mayor.”

Leadley could not be reached for comment.


Govt-and-politics
Runchey ousted in Cedar Falls; Brown wins; runoff for at large

CEDAR FALLS — One City Council member was unseated, the race for one council seat isn’t over and incumbent Mayor Jim Brown cruised to re-election in Tuesday’s elections in Cedar Falls.

Three-term incumbent 3rd Ward council member John Runchey was defeated by financial planner and Landlords of Iowa president Daryl Kruse by an unofficial vote of 607, or 53 percent, to 524. The race to fill an open at-large council seat will be decided in a Dec. 5 runoff election between Rob Green, who finished first, and LeeAnn Saul, as neither gained a majority. Erin Cornelius came in a strong third but was eliminated.

Brown won a second term as mayor with more than 83 percent of the vote over retired University of Northern Iowa speech professor Jim Skaine, a frequent critic of city policy at council meetings.

Kruse said he worked hard for what many might view as an upset.

“Basically I knocked on every door or hung a flier on every door and communicated with people, just talked to the people. And the people wanted accountability on the City Council and to be involved in the decision making,” Kruse said. “I was cautiously optimistic.”

Kruse also ran a campaign advertisement showing a council-meeting exchange a couple of years ago between Runchey and citizen Dave Halterman, later a 2015 mayoral candidate. Runchey called Halterman “a horse’s ass.” He later apologized.

“It represented his demeanor,” Kruse said of Runchey. He suggested the incumbent “rubber stamped” city policy.

Runchey, who did not spend enough on his campaign to require filing disclosure statements, did not respond to the ad or Kruse’s remarks.

“He got more votes, and that’s that,” Runchey said. “No sour grapes. Congratulations to him. I really enjoyed my time on the City Council. I was great to serve the citizens of Cedar Falls. I wish him the best.”

While many expected the at-large race to result in a runoff with three candidates running, Green and Saul both were surprised in their order of finish. Both expected Saul would be in the lead.

“I thought I’d be on top. Of course, with the support I had,” said Saul, who ran a well-financed campaign. “We’re going to look at the numbers. I want to see where the votes were, what wards where people were voting. If this was a UNI vote, I don’t think I have a chance,” referring to voting by University of Northern Iowa students, faculty and staff. But she said her campaign would review numbers thoroughly, regroup and gear up for the runoff.

“I’m very happy,” Green said of his first-place showing. “It gives me confidence going into the runoff,” particularly since he spent a third as much as Saul.

“I’m grateful for the confidence placed in me by so many Cedar Falls residents, and I’ll be working to earn the support of the community as we head into the runoff,” Green said.

Both he and Saul were surprised at the showing by Cornelius, who claimed a fourth of the vote.

“I want to thank Erin Cornelius for raising important issues during this campaign and look forward to addressing these concerns,” Green said, noting he will definitely be courting her supporters. “I’ve got a lot of friends there,” he said.

Brown, said he was “very humbled” by the amount of support he received. He won his first term in a runoff two years ago after late incumbent Mayor Jon Crew dropped out of the race,

“Along with so many folks who love this city, I believe our future looks bright, and I’m grateful I get to be a part of leading that effort,” Brown said.

“The message is pretty much the same. We’re going to continue moving forward on the economic development piece, foster the growth we’ve had and continue toward the future, especially with the high-tech sector, keep people informed of different (road) construction projects,” such as University Avenue the Highway 58/Viking Road interchange and Main Street.

Public safety, specifically fire staffing, became an issue, but Brown said he believes the pending construction of a new public safety building, bringing fire and police operations under one roof, will create “more opportunities for collaboration, cooperation and training” between police and fire, including full-time firefighters, cross-trained public safety officers and paid-on-call staff.

“And that is happening, flat out,” Brown said, citing a fire last week in which 14 trained personnel were on the scene.


COURTESY PHOTO 

Brown


Crime-and-courts
Prosecutor: Slaying came following years-long custody dispute

INDEPENDENCE — For years, Hillary Lee Hunziker was locked in a battle with her ex-husband for custody of her son, according to prosecutors.

The battle came to an end before sunrise Monday when Hillary Hunziker allegedly stabbed her ex, 39-year-old Jason Allen Hunziker, to death at his rural Independence home and drove off with the 9-year-old with plans to flee the state, said Buchanan County Attorney Shawn Harden.

Now Hillary Hunziker, 32, is in the jail on a first-degree murder charge, which carries life in prison upon conviction.

And she is barred from contacting her son because of a no-contact order put in place during a brief Tuesday morning court hearing.

“There was a child of the defendant and victim’s present at the location where the murder occurred. … He witnessed the events that led to the victim’s death,” said Harden, who requested the restraining order. “We feel that he’s just as much a victim in this case as the individual that died.”

“She has already shown that she will take him and leave with him,” Harden said.

Hillary Hunziker bristled when her defense attorney declined to challenge the no-contact order.

District Court Judge Brad Harris imposed a $1 million bond in the case.

Harden said the case began with the couple’s divorce proceedings when Hillary Hunziker didn’t receive custody of the boy.

“It’s been several years, but since that time and throughout the years, she’s made several false allegations to law enforcement and to the Department of Human Services involving abuse perpetrated on the child by the victim, increasing in severity from initially being inadequate housing and food to physical abuse, sexual abuse, all of which the child himself denied. Those all have been unfounded,” Harden said.

Buchanan County sheriff’s deputies said the child was first to call 911 about 4:34 a.m. Monday, telling dispatchers, “My mom just stabbed my dad.” The ex-husband called next, and when deputies arrived at his home on Henley Avenue, he was found dead in the bedroom with large cuts on his left arm and calf.

Hillary Hunziker and the child were found covered in blood at an address in Robins, and she was detained. Court records allege she had planned the attack, buying a knife, wearing boots that would muffle footsteps and parking down the road from her ex-husband’s house.

She also had a plan to flee Iowa and had given instructions to her mother about what to do in the event something happened, Harden told the court during Tuesday’s hearing.

“After committing the crime, she telephoned her mother and told her mother that plan needed to be activated,” Harden said.


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