A pair of veteran Dyersville city leaders retained their seats at the City Council table, while a late entry to the race for the council's at-large seat prevailed, during the Nov. 8 municipal elections.
Veteran Mayor Jim Heavens outdistanced challenger Al Haas by a vote tally of 683-468 and earning 59.3 percent of the vote, compared to Haas' 40.6 percent showing.
Heavens will continue to be joined by the city's longest serving councilman, Mike English, who withstood a write-in challenge from Janet Willenbring. English outdistanced the challenger by a 194-75 vote margin and earning 72 percent support from voters.
In the city's most unique race, Mark Breitbach, a teacher at Beckman High School, won an at-large seat after beating out three other write-in candidates. Breitbach ran away with the race, tallying 599 votes (60 percent), compared with Brian Cassidy's 270 votes (30 percent), Kathy Leibold's 75 votes (7.5 percent) and Adam Huehnergarth's 50 votes (5 percent). Breitbach replaces Robert "Gar" Kramer, who did not seek a new term.
Although Heavens posted a 19-percent victory over Haas, the results were considerably closer than when the pair squared off for the mayor's seat in 2007. Four years ago, Heavens defeated Haas with a staggering 73 percent of the votes.
Heavens credited Haas with running a strong campaign this year.
"Al really did work hard at this election," Heavens said, commending the grassroots campaign Haas put forth.
While Heavens was confident in his chances to prevail, he felt humbled by the victory.
"It is a very interesting process," Heavens said of mayoral elections. "From a managerial standpoint, it is good that you have to answer to the people who hire you every two years."
He called his reelection an endorsement of the progress the city has made in the past two years.
"It is truly an election where we are staying the course," he said.
With his victory, English, the city's mayor pro tem, earned an eighth term on the council. He has served on the council consecutively since 1988.
English was initially expected to be unchallenged in the race. However, in late October, Willenbring declared she would be a write-in candidate for English's second ward seat.
Prior to the election, English said a challenge for the city in the years ahead would be to land an anchor industry for the community's new industrial park on the southwest side of the community.
Breitbach, a political newcomer, earned a resounding victory in his effort to replace Kramer. He credited his victory to a strong network of support, which helped get his name out to voters.
"I had some good supporting behind me," Breitbach said. "I think that was the key."
Breitbach could initially be a wild card on the council when he takes his seat in January. The long-time educator joined the field of declared write-in candidates in late October, after a candidate forum was held. Furthermore, when interviewed by the Dyersville Commercial prior to the election, Breitbach said he did not have enough information to comment on numerous decisions the council has faced recently.
"It's hard to say," Breitbach said of the role he will take on the council. "I'll be new to the council and I'll take it step by step. I'm looking forward to working with Mayor Heavens and the City Council."
During his most recent term, Kramer often formed a voting block with Councilwoman Molly Evers, including in their opposition to the city's financial support of the new Castle Hill subdivision. Kramer had endorsed his niece's husband, Cassidy, to succeed him on the council.