The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 15, 2013

What residents want

OTTUMWA — One problem sometimes associated with politicians is that they are out of touch with the will of the voters. A local Iowa senator figured he could solve that problem by asking.

State Sen. Mark Chelgren, whose district covers parts of Wapello, Davis, Jefferson and Van Buren counties, said he wanted to know what all voters were thinking, not just his supporters. He told the Courier he put together a survey with questions he thought would be important to all citizens.

"I wanted to find out firsthand the priorities of voters in my district," Chelgren said. "By keeping political affiliation out of the survey, it helped me understand what the voters want."

Almost 1,000 surveys came back completed, he said.

"There were answers on there that surprised me, answers I wouldn't have expected," he said.

When at forums in person, residents will often tell southeast Iowa elected officials that the No. 1 priority should be jobs. Chelgren's survey said jobs are No. 2.

"Of the following choices, which ONE do you believe should be the top priority of the State of Iowa over the next 18 months?"

— 32 percent: Balancing the state budget

— 28 percent: Creating jobs

— 25 percent: Reducing taxes

— 10 percent: Fixing our roads and bridges

— 2 percent: Improving our schools

— 2 percent: Stopping gun violence

Education, in that case, was tied for last place, which, again, is different from what some residents, and many political candidates, have claimed as their top priority.

However, some answers weren't necessarily a big surprise.

"With more than 900 answers, only one person said they felt they didn't pay enough in taxes," Chelgren said.

And, asked to rate roads in Iowa by choosing a score of excellent, average, below average or poor, last place went to "excellent," checked by only 5 percent of respondents.

Other percentages may have been harder to guess. When it comes to doing away with "straight ticket" voting, residents were split just about 50/50.

Nearly 90 percent of those polled believe citizens should have to show photo identification before voting.

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.


Text Only
Local News
  • 0731 OTT Aviation plane -T -M Flying free OTTUMWA — The financial obstacle may have been removed if your career goal starts with learning to fly. "We have it set up for three terms, about nine months," said pilot and chief flight instructor Darren Graham at Indian Hills Community College. "

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supervisors discuss pipeline potential KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisors received preliminary, general information on a new pipeline being proposed to carry oil from North Dakota through Iowa, including Van Buren County, then crossing into Illinois. The proposed Bakken Pipeline wou

    July 30, 2014

  • Fairfield stabbing suspects' trials separated FAIRFIELD — The three people accused of dragging a man into a Fairfield apartment before robbing and stabbing him have had a judge grant their requests to separate their trials. Dawn Dunn, Dustin Roll and Brett Hedblade are each charged with willful

    July 30, 2014

  • Local business donates grain rescue tube KEOSAUQUA — Stockport Elevator, owned by Roquette America, donated a grain rescue tube to Birmingham and Stockport Fire Departments. A training session was conducted Monday, led by Dale Ekdahl, a representative of Outstate Data, LLC, the device’s man

    July 30, 2014

  • Where do my taxes go? OTTUMWA — Wapello County Board certified its tax levy. But what does that mean? Based on budgets submitted by various levying authors, the Wapello County Auditor prepares and certifies the levy rates for the county. Budgets for each levy are based on

    July 30, 2014

  • OCSD releases elementary supplies list

    OTTUMWA — For years, parents of the students in Ottumwa's elementary schools have had to check to make sure the school supplies list they grabbed was the right one for their school. No more.

    July 30, 2014

  • Reducing runoff at the local level AGENCY — Pollution isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you look out at a field of Iowa corn or soybeans, but there’s growing concern about what manages to get out of the fields and into the water. The same nutrients that benefit the crops c

    July 30, 2014

  • Supervisors wrestle with staffing woes KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren County Supervisor Chairman Bob Waugh says he wants county supervisors to help alleviate staffing problems within the county treasurer’s office. In May, supervisors opted not to replace a vacancy within the treasurer’s office. Va

    July 30, 2014

  • 0730 OTT Better Buildings -T -M Wildwood could be your home OTTUMWA — There was always one child per class who just adored school. If they went to Wildwood, they may soon be able to move in permanently. The Ottumwa board of education met Monday, where staff told them where the district stood as far as "facili

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • A changing roster -- for school board OTTUMWA — If the last time you saw your board of education was before Christmastime, the current school board might surprise you. Two members retired from the board: longtime educator Ron Oswalt stepped down, as did board president Carol Mitchell. Bo

    July 29, 2014

Photo reprints