The Ottumwa Courier

September 17, 2013

Big votes coming up

Ottumwa Courier

---- — Ottumwans planning to vote in the upcoming city primary and general elections have a couple times left to watch or attend a City Council session.

You should, especially if you haven't been keeping up with city issues.

Prior to the next council meeting, find out the agenda and tune in to what council members will discuss.

Lately, there have been a variety of street issues. Some issues haven't made the newspaper, but they are out there. Find them out from people you know who frequent City Hall and know what's going on.

On an overall scale, now is the time to gather information to make an informed decision come the primary vote in October, followed by the general election in early November.

Like the recent school election, the upcoming city election is filled with several candidates wanting a spot on the five-member city council. Three seats — a majority — are up for election. Two of the council members, Brian Morgan and Jeremy Weller, are not running again. So at least two new council members will be elected. Incumbent Bob Meyers is running for another term, as is the mayor, Frank Flanders.

We hope that voters have made themselves aware of council's actions and activities since the last election two years ago. That's how you know who you will vote for — their past record, if an incumbent.

For the two new seats, attend the Ottumwa League of Women Voters forum coming up, either in person at City Hall or on GO-TV. It will be a great opportunity to ask the candidates their positions on areas of interest to you, from street repair plans to nuisance ordinances, to the status of trees in the city's ongoing sewer separation project.

Street improvements could be a big issue. Next year, widening of Pennsylvania Avenue is planned, which will once again disrupt traffic to our local hospital.

Improvements to both the Market Street bridge and Jefferson Street bridge are planned for 2014 — unfortunately, at the same time. This is an issue that needs to be addressed considering the large number of residents on either side of the Des Moines River who work or want to shop on the other side. If both bridges are closed for weeks at the same time, that only leaves the highway bypass around Cargill Meats Solutions and the Wapello Street Viaduct as venues for crossing the river. Voters should question city planners why the two bridges are planned to be closed at the same time. Couldn't this have been avoided? And is there time to correct that problem?

Another issue concerns the council and the mayor and the time limit accorded residents who want to speak at council meetings. Is that problem solved? Should it be further discussed? What do you think should be the time limit imposed on questions to the city governing board?

It was encouraging to witness the number of voters who participated in the recent Ottumwa school board elections, a number quite higher than those of other recent votes.

We hope the primary and general elections coming up also see a high number of eligible city voters turning out to select their choices from the number of candidates running.

Now is the time to get informed, be informed and be prepared to cast your vote. If you don't do your homework, don't be so quick to judge the council's actions.

We applaud the number of interested citizens who have thrown their hat in the ring. Thank you for volunteering to serve.

Now it is up to us, the voters, to give them their chance. Plan to elect the best person possible to lead our city government.

Your vote does make a difference in Ottumwa. Please exercise your right.

Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.