OTTUMWA — As the mayoral election approaches, the two candidates discussed their different opinions of how to improve Ottumwa's future. Tom Lazio is challenging Mayor Frank Flanders.
Flanders said he's shown residents for the past two years how he'll lead, and what his ethics are.
"I want to be the mayor of a community where we care about each other, where we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers," he said.
He's also demonstrated where his priorities are.
"Staying on top of the streets, pursuing grants and [bringing] good-paying jobs," Flanders listed.
In a way, one example demonstrated all of those things: Helping get John Deere to contribute financially to an infrastructure project that includes streets and sewers increases the odds that they'll stay in Ottumwa, or even expand.
But he does more than that: When the opportunity arises, he said, he'll say to business representatives, "Please keep Ottumwa in mind."
Yes, he said, it may be a long shot, but you do it enough times, there's no telling when a company might remember Ottumwa.
"I'm always looking to sell Ottumwa ... when I meet with a good, ethical employer," Flanders said.
As mayor, most of his interaction with outside business interests has been in writing a letter at the request of economic development officials.
"I ask, 'What can I do as mayor to make Ottumwa work for you?'" he said.
He said he has a good working relationship with the city administrator. But has he noticed City Council members going around that manager to investigate city matters directly with municipal employees?
"The way it should work is the mayor and the City Council go through the city administrator," Flanders said. "I can't force the council members to do that, but I think that has gotten better. I have discouraged that kind of thing."