WATERLOO — Chris Shimp has resigned his Waterloo City Council seat after less than nine months in office.
Shimp announced he was resigning immediately Friday for personal and family reasons, which included being the constant target of harsh comments from political opponents.
“Serving the people of Ward 5 has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Shimp said in a news release. “The most important title I’ve earned in life, however, is dad.
“Unfortunately, local politics has become extremely hostile, and I can no longer subject my family to the media attention and harsh discourse that comes along with serving in public office,” he said. “Returning to private life and just being ‘dad’ is the best move for me right now.”
Shimp, 33, was elected in November, defeating Cody Leistikow in the race to replace longtime Ward 5 Councilman Ron Welper, who did not seek re-election. His term was set to expire at the end of 2021.
The announcement came days after police questioned Shimp about an incident Aug. 4 in which his neighbor claimed Shimp had attempted to enter his home. Earlier in the night Shimp had been working concessions at Iowa Irish Fest and received a ride home from Mayor Quentin Hart.
According to police, the neighbor said a shoeless and shirtless Shimp came to his door and tried to get inside around 12:35 a.m. Aug. 4. After about 10 minutes of trying the front and side doors, Shimp apparently left.
After the sun rose, the neighbor discovered the mailbox attached to his house was torn off and a $20 bill was laying on the steps. He called police at about 7:20 a.m.
Shimp denied any involvement when questioned by officers, said Capt. David Mohlis with the Waterloo Police Department, and the neighbor declined to pursue charges.
Shortly before he was sworn in as a City Council member in January, Shimp pleaded guilty to public intoxication charges stemming from an October encounter with University of Northern Iowa police.
Shimp said he takes full responsibility for past mistakes. But he reiterated his resignation was due to concerns about his family and the tone of criticism in general related to his position in public office.
During his short time in office, Shimp was frequently part of a voting bloc including council members Steve Schmitt, Bruce Jacobs and Margaret Klein. He was instrumental in March helping the council reach a compromise after it appeared to be hopelessly deadlocked on this year’s budget.
Under Iowa law, the remaining six council members can call for a special election to complete Shimp’s term or appoint someone to replace him until the next city election in November 2019. If they appoint a replacement, residents still can petition for a special election.
At-large Councilwoman Sharon Juon said she thought it was likely a special election would be required to fill the vacancy.
“I don’t know who the person would be that would be acceptable to both sides for an appointment,” Juon said. “I don’t know for sure, but I’m suspecting that we’ll go for a special election.”
Schmitt, also an at-large councilman, was in office in 2016 when Councilman David Jones resigned. Schmitt had pushed for an appointment process then to avoid the cost of a special election, but the council ultimately voted to hold a special election.
“I don’t know if there would be any more opportunity to have that conversation now,” Schmitt said. “It sure seems like we should be able to at least try.”
Mayor Hart was traveling on city business and could not be reached for comment.
Courier staff writer Jeff Reinitz contributed to this article.