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Indianola Council Members: City Government Change Brings Uncertainty

City HallDuring a special meeting in March, the Indianola City Council approved a special election to change the city’s form of government.

The change would reduce the city council’s size by two members and throw out the position of an elected mayor.

“Having an elected mayor, whose role by our charter is chief executive officer of the city, means basically what I’m doing is trying to pull groups together get groups to work together on things,” Indianola mayor, Ken Bresnan, said. “With a mayor it is not uncommon for one of the development groups to say come meet with this person. Now a lot of it they just want to know the town is interested and the mayor symbolizes that. Under the new form of government, that might not be there.”

Firs ward councilman, John Parker, says he doesn’t think the new system would benefit the city or small businesses.

“I really don’t,” Parker said. “One of the other things this form of government does is what’s called a weak mayor, and really our mayor has always been the champion of Indianola.  They’re the ones when they go places they promote Indianola…You kind of need to have that person present and stick-by people and you have one person focused on that.  That would be a negative thing. In my mind, I really don’t see any positive to changing.”

No one knows for sure what the change would bring, but it has the potential to end existing economic development programs.

“I mean everybody’s up for election (in January), so it could destroy the continuity,” said Bresnan. “Could be five brand new people. Could be five brand new people that love the programs, and could be five people that don’t want the programs. It’s no one knows.”

This kind of uncertainty is a factor for small businesses to consider according to Parker who also owns Parker Graphics and Designs.

“When you have change, you have unknown,” Parker said. “Being a small businessman, you don’t like having unknown factors. You like to know exactly what’s going on and a little more certainty especially from government.”

The change could strain communication between businesses and the city government.

“Small business by itself is really dependent on good communication with the local government because that’s pretty much where any money a small business is going to get comes from to help with the building and start-up,” Bresnan said.

Under the current system, the each of the four wards of Indianola has representation on the council.  Equal representation would not be guaranteed under the proposed system.

“Currently, we have six council members, two that are elected at large and one from each of the four wards,” Parker said. “So at that point, each ward would have three council members representing them specifically, and if you take that away, you could have all five new council members coming from one area of the community where the focus may not be focused on business. It may be more residential.”

Parker says the city government in place now has always had small businesses in mind.

“In our current council and form of government, we have a pro small-business kind of mentality,” Parker said “We’re really pushing to bring in more industry and small business into Indianola, and that is kind of our focus right now is economic development and a new form of government can change that too.”

Small business owners can vote on the referendum to change Indianola’s form of city government Aug. 6.

Because it is an election on the form of city government, council members are not allowed by law to be officially involved.  Do not contact any Indianola city council members via official city email addresses or city phone numbers about the change.

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About Hanna Russmann

I am a graduate of Simpson College with a degree in Multimedia Journalism.

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