City councils in Waterloo and Cedar Falls will see some significant change after last week’s elections.
Those changes hold the prospect of shaking up the dynamics of both councils. That’s neither good nor bad.
The constant is the mayoral positions of both cities. Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart ran unopposed, while Cedar Falls Mayor Jim Brown defeated challenger Jim Skaine.
There will be three new faces on the Waterloo council. That includes Sharon Juon, who soundly defeated incumbent at-large Councilman Tom Lind; Margaret Klein, who defeated incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Tom Powers; and first-time candidate Chris Shimp, who defeated Cody Leistikow in the race to replace long-time Ward 5 Councilman Ron Welper, who did not seek re-election.
Ward 3 Councilman Pat Morrissey retained his seat, beating first-time candidate April Leadley. Steve Schmitt, Bruce Jacobs and Jerome Amos Jr. were not up for re-election.
“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.”
Please read carefully. That’s “engaged” not “enraged.”
In Waterloo, it was no secret distinct alliances had been formed. That’s not necessarily a bad development, and it’s certainly not unheard of on councils across the land.
However, we believe it’s fair to say public council discussions too often became too disrespectful and sometimes embarrassing.
Some candidates intimated the mayor got rubber stamp votes from Welper, Amos, Morrissey and Powers. Conversely, there has been a perception the loudest criticisms of issues favored by the mayor generally came from the trio of Schmitt, Lind and Jacobs.
We’ll stop short of referring to this election as a power shift — not every vote or decision the council made fell along the 4-3 split council followers have come to recognize.
Juon certainly seems to have more in common with Hart ideologically than did Lind. They even held a joint election night party.
The wild cards are Klein and Shimp. Klein has spoken about changing the status quo, and both talked about cutting property taxes during their respective campaigns.
“We need to get to work doing some things to move Waterloo forward,” Shimp said. “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.”
That would be refreshing.
Cedar Falls is seeing change on a slightly smaller scale, and the election there isn’t quite over. Daryl Kruse defeated incumbent Ward 3 Councilman John Runchey. Rob Green and LeaAnn Saul, the top vote-getters last week for the at-large seat being vacated by Nick Taiber, will be in a runoff. Councilmen Frank Darrah and Mark Miller were running unopposed. Council members Susan deBuhr, Tom Blanford and Dave Wieland were not up for election this year.
The past couple of years brought a few hot issues to Cedar Falls, which caused some citizen consternation and some frayed tempers on the council.
Runchey, unwittingly, pretty much created a tailor-made campaign ad for any future opponent. The Kruse campaign capitalized, running a campaign ad showing a council meeting exchange between Runchey and citizen Dave Halterman, later a 2015 mayoral candidate. Runchey called Halterman “a horse’s ass,” during the meeting. He later apologized, but the damage was done.
On any Cedar Valley council, we don’t mind differing opinions. What we would like to see is perhaps a little more professional respect and amicable discussion, even if ideologies differ.
We would also be remiss not to thank all the candidates who ran for positions across the Cedar Valley. It’s not easy to put yourself on the line. Forums and debates are difficult, and taking a stand one way or another will bring criticism.
For the victors, there will be situations where difficult decisions have to be made, decisions many will oppose and decisions that will bring criticism.
Good luck to our council members, old and new, in the Cedar Valley.