WATERLOO — If there was a theme from Tuesday night’s election results in Northeast Iowa, it was perhaps this: Throw the bums out. And voters figured a lot of them to be bums.
From bigger cities to smaller towns, voters were adamant that they didn’t agree with how they were being represented.
“Virtually every incumbent in Northeast Iowa got trashed,” said Waverly Mayor Dean Soash.
Soash knows a thing or two about anti-incumbent sentiment — he bested his own incumbent, former Waverly mayor Charles Infelt, two years ago. Tuesday night, he and two members of his city council faced their own reckoning.
But Soash consoled himself Tuesday with the knowledge he wasn’t alone, as he watched other races come in.
“Mayor (Jim) Brown got beat in Cedar Falls, Councilman (Steve) Schmitt in Waterloo — anyone who had opposition,” he said.
It happened in Waverly, Evansdale, Jesup and Dunkerton. And it might still happen in Elk Run Heights, where an unofficial tie stands between Mayor Tim Swope and his former city clerk.
Waverly Mayor Dean Soash was on the winning side of anti-incumbent sentiment two years ago. Now, he’s on the other side.
Soash, 82 and retired from his electrician business, lost his bid to continue as mayor to challenger Adam Hoffman, 1,397 to 1,249, or roughly 53% to 47%.
Hoffman, 39, has worked in law enforcement for decades and now works as a family service counselor with Abels Funeral and Cremation Service. He wasn’t available for comment Tuesday evening.
“The only thing I have to say is the voters have spoken, and they’ll have to live with the decision for the next two years,” Soash said.
Both Ward 4 council member Mike Sherer and at-large member Edith Waldstein were bested by their challengers Tuesday. Sherer, 77, said last month the city’s voters had a clear choice in each race.
“It’s almost like we have two slates — the incumbents, and the other group that is fairly unified in thinking differently,” Sherer told the Courier.
He lost, 302 to 253, to challenger Heather Beaufore, 40, a registered nurse who works for Waterloo Community Schools in the district’s Career Center.
Waldstein, 68, and vice president for enrollment management and an associate professor of humanities at Wartburg College, lost to Neighborhood Home store owner Matthew Schneider, 44, who became the face of the opposition to taking Bremer Avenue from four lanes down to three.
In Ward 2, where the incumbent council member Dan McKenzie stepped down, McKenzie’s preferred candidate, Kris Glaser, won the seat.
Glaser, 47, and the director of finance at Cedar Valley Hospice, garnered 361 votes to the 252 gotten by Mike Hangartner, 34, who works at Cambrex in Charles City.
Evansdale’s longtime mayor was unseated — and the coalition of candidates running against his vision for the city was swept into office.
Troy Beatty, 40, with 758 votes, unofficially unseated Doug Faas, who only garnered 270 votes.
“We’re going to be able to make the changes our community wants,” Beatty said. “I’m excited for what I can do with the community.”
Beatty celebrated his win with his supporters at The OP in Evansdale on Tuesday.
“The turnout down here at the OP shows me I’m doing the right thing at the right time,” he said.
First on his agenda is moving forward with joining Waterloo’s sewer treatment plant instead of building new, and redirecting future repair plans for Lafayette Road.
“This is why I ran. Our current mayor was disconnected from his community. He refused to accept that,” Beatty said.
Beatty was the spokesperson for a group appealing to a state board to reverse Evansdale’s 22% tax increase this year. Though he only succeeded in getting a portion of the increase reversed, Beatty said people encouraged him to run for Faas’ job after that. So he gave up a six-figure salary with Amazon Logistics in Oklahoma City to return to Evansdale and make running for mayor his full-time job.
“(Faas) didn’t accept feedback from the citizens, and this is the result you get,” Beatty said.
Faas was unavailable for comment.
Others running on similar platforms, including an incumbent dissenter, also won the day: Charles Beam, with 135 votes, won Evansdale Ward 1 against Dottie Wear, who got 117 votes. And in Ward 3, incumbent Steven Seible came out on top with 104 votes against Jeff Dawson’s 52 votes, Jackie Wilson’s 41 votes, and Benjamin Hovey’s 22 votes.
Elk Run Heights
Turns out, one vote really would have made the difference.
But as it stands, after all of the votes were counted the unofficial tally left both Mayor Tim Swope and former City Clerk Kristi Lundy at 130 votes apiece.
“I guess I’m still in shock,” Swope said Tuesday night after the final but unofficial tally was released by the Black Hawk County Auditor’s Office. “I really don’t know what happens after this.”
Elk Run Heights has no runoff provision. If the vote remains tied after a canvass and potential recount, a winner will be chosen randomly — generally by drawing a name out of a hat.
Neither Swope nor Lundy expected a tied vote.
“Well then I guess whatever happens, happens,” Lundy said Tuesday night. “Either way, I’m fine with it. I’m happy with it, and glad that we had a lot of voters.”
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The third mayoral challenger, former mayor Gary Wurtz, 61, received 73 votes. He was re-elected in 2013 but resigned during that term due to increased job responsibilities.
Swope, a 70-year-old John Deere retiree, served several terms as a councilman before he was appointed in 2014 to take over the mayor’s post when Wurtz resigned. Swope was re-elected in 2015 and 2017.
“I was going to run a clean campaign, and that’s how I stayed,” Swope said.
Lundy, 56, began working for the city reading water meters in 1990. She worked as a deputy city clerk in Elk Run Heights and Evansdale before being appointed as the Elk Run Heights clerk in 2002. In April, the city terminated Lundy. Public records show the city claimed Lundy wasn’t doing the job properly, but her attorney disputed those allegations.
“I think this has got to be the highest turnout Elk Run has ever had,” Lundy said of the town, population 1,100. “It’s good to see a lot of people interested in what’s going on in our town.”
Among the nine candidates for Elk Run Heights City Council, four of the current council members appear to have kept their seats — Lisa Smock, with 199 votes; Tim Ratchford, with 177 votes; Dale Wilson, with 170 votes; and Dennis Bass, with 156 votes.
But the final council member on the ballot, Arlan Schellhorn, appears to have just missed winning his seat back: He garnered 146 votes to challenger Heather Sallis’ 149 votes.
Challengers Allison Lundy, Brenda Miller and Christopher Parker failed in their bids, garnering 136, 134 and 114 votes, respectively.
Voters also declined a public measure to create staggered, four-year city council terms to replace the current two-year terms, 161 to 155.
It’s payback time in Dunkerton.
Mayor Ed Jessen, 64, a professional truck driver and Hawkeye Community College instructor who had previously trounced former mayor Michael Schares twice — in 2013 and in 2017 — this time fell by 20 votes to his rival.
Schares, 65 and a Deere and Co. retiree who had previously served 22 years as mayor, garnered 157 votes to Jessen’s 137. No one cast a write-in vote, according to the Black Hawk County auditor’s office.
“Ed has made a lot of people unhappy over the years,” Schares said of his rival. “He’s had a lot of controversy in the last couple of years.”
He said he believed his message resonated this time around.
“I’ve lived my entire life in this town, and I care about this town, is the biggest thing,” Schares said. “It needs to go in the right direction.”
A slate full of newcomers to the Dunkerton City Council was whittled down to two at-large positions: Ron Reichen and Monica Smith look to be the unofficial winners, getting 159 and 120 votes, respectively. Challenger Timothy Dalton received 109, Derek Shaner garnered 83 and Steve Wissink took 77 votes.
Brian Roquet bested Travis Hoing in the race to fill an at-large council seat, 168 to 117.
Gilbertville Mayor Mark Thome was a rare case of voters electing to stay the course in Northeast Iowa.
Thome was overwhelmingly elected to a fourth term with 122 votes, nearly 68% of the vote. He bested council member Pam Meinert, a former first responder who works for Waterloo Schools as a building secretary. She received 50 votes.
Jesup’s mayor was replaced by the challenger who tried replacing him in the last election.
Mayor Larry Thompson received just 259 votes to challenger Chris Even’s 525 votes.
Even told The Courier he was running on a platform to bring more resident involvement in city meetings and more quality of life improvements.
In the crowded at-large race, council members Dawn Vogel, Richard Mott and Russ Solomon also were replaced, garnering 306, 277 and 207 votes, respectively. In their places will be top vote-getters Craig Wright, Curtis Schares and David Bishop, who received 501, 411 and 332 votes, respectively, in the unofficial tally. Challenger Rick Deitrick picked up 170 votes.
One council member won’t be retaking his seat in the new year.
Denver at-large council member Jeremie Peterson finished last of three candidates for two at-large seats in the unofficial tally, with 163 votes.
Another current at-large council member, Mark Richmann, will keep his seat, garnering 180 votes.
Challenger Matthew Wittenburg received the most votes, at 193.
The only incumbent council member running lost Tuesday night.
At-large council member Linda Meier received the fewest votes, at 242, of four candidates running for the two open seats.
Challengers Brock Rettinger and George Heying were the top two vote-getters, garnering 333 and 328 votes, respectively.
The final challenger, Brian Bockhaus, received 273 votes.