When Dyersville voters go to polls next week to select an at-large member for the City Council, they'll have to pen a name to the ballot in order to vote for the seat.
Initially, with Bob "Gar" Kramer declining to seek another term, no candidate stepped forward to fill the spot of the veteran council member. However, in the run up to the election, four candidates have publicly declared they seek to be write-in candidates for the seat on the council. Mark Breitbach, Brian Cassidy, Kathy Leibold and Adam Huehnergarth have stepped forward to run for the open seat.
• Breitbach, who has taught for 38 years at Beckman High School, said he has had a long interest in city government, and with Kramer not running for reelection, he saw an opportunity to run.
"Personally, I think, as a community, Dyersville is pretty proactive. I want to see it going in the same direction," Breitbach explained of a challenge facing the community in the years ahead.
However, without currently being on the council or involved with local government, Breitbach acknowledges he has a learning curve to overcome.
"It is different looking from the outside in, instead of being there," he explained.
Without being a current member of the council, Breitbach said he did not have enough information to comment on several recent council decisions.
"I (was) not involved with the past decisions," he said. "If I'm elected, I'll be part of future decisions."
He did, however, praise the city for being "proactive" in developing a new community center.
• Cassidy, a commercial insurance agent for the Dubuque-based Friedman Group, is making his second run for City Council.
He decided to seek election after learning Kramer, his wife's uncle, would not seek reelection.
Cassidy, who has lived in the community for four years and serves on the city's Parks and Recreation Board, said he has "always had an interest (in) the community." He said his education and background give him the experience "to aid progress, but not forget (the city's) tradition and history."
He describes the state of the economy as being the biggest challenge facing the city. He said decisions the council makes are important to keeping tax rates low.
Cassidy said he would not second-guess the council's decision to eliminate the community's police dispatchers, however, he has been made aware of at least three instances in recent weeks, where it would have been advantageous to have had the dispatchers in place.
As the council looks to hire a new police chief in the upcoming weeks, Cassidy said the new hire should be a person that is "visible" in the community, be hands-on and be someone who is not just an "administrative police chief."
• Huehnergarth has lived in Dyersville for the past 14 years. A father of three children, Huehnergarth is a manager for Schwan's Food Service Inc.
A member of the city's Parks and Recreation Board, Huehnergarth said his experience with the committee planning a master plan for the community's parks system has prepared him for a role on the council. He said the process gave him a better understanding of the community's overall goals.
"I got a little bit of an ‘in' on how the process works," Huehnergarth explained, .
Huehnergarth describes himself as quick study, who will work to learn the inner workings of the governing process.
"I love researching and learning how things work," he added.
Huehnergarth, who positioned himself as a proponent of creating quality-of-life enhancements during a recent candidate forum, said Dyersville's new community center will be an ideal place to host summer youth programs that are sponsored by Iowa State University Extension, in addition to the local senior citizens meal program. He pointed to the city of Epworth's former use of the old Epworth Elementary School as an example of how a community can provide youth programs.
On another topic of great community interest, Huehnergarth concurs with the City Council's decision to eliminate the position of police dispatchers last spring.
"It probably wasn't a no-brainer decision, but one that was a sound financial decision," he said.
• Leibold, who works as a certified nursing assistant at Oak Crest Nursing Home, said she decided to run for the council after watching the proceedings on the local cable access channel and learning there was a lack of candidates for the at-large seat.
A member of the floodplain development committee from 2000-2005, Leibold describes Dyersville as "just a great place."
"Every year, we have more to offer people," she said, noting the development of new housing subdivisions and the addition of the new Dyersville Elementary School this year.
Leibold said attracting new businesses, as well as maintaining the community's current number of businesses, are major challenges for the city.
"Try to rejuvenate downtown, somehow," she said.
Although she does not have a specific plan to attract or retain businesses, Leibold said she is "always open to suggestions and ideas."
Leibold sees the new community center as being a multi-use facility, not only for the local senior citizens meal program, but for use by youth groups, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. She said it "should be a place for the youth to go and hang out."
If feasible, Leibold is in favor of the city's effort to add a second Little League baseball field at property the city leases from the Dyersville Commercial Club.
"I think it would be a great idea to have another field up there," she said.