The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

July 16, 2013

Finding candidates for elected office an uphill battle

OTTUMWA — Finding people to run for elected office in Ottumwa has always been a struggle, and with recent controversies, filling open seats has proven even more difficult.

Three City Council seats are up for grabs this fall as the terms for Councilmen Bob Meyers, Brian Morgan and Jeremy Weller end in January. But only three people have taken out papers so far: Meyers, Robert LaPoint and Dave Gordy.

Meyers is a current councilman and hopes to retain his seat. If elected, January would mark the beginning of his third term on council.

LaPoint, currently chairman of the Ottumwa Transit Advisory Board and member of the Ottumwa Parks Advisory Board, ran for mayor in 2011 but was booted out in the primary by candidate Frank Flanders and then-mayor Dale Uehling. Flanders went on to win the general election.

Gordy said he's "just a regular citizen" who's running because he wants to see more accountability in local government and he wants to be the "conservative take" on city finances.

The mayor's seat will appear on the ballot as well. Flanders has taken out papers as have three others: Morgan, Tom Lazio and Mitch Niner.

Morgan and Niner are current councilmen. Morgan's term ends this year and he has said he doesn't plan to run for his council seat again this fall. Niner is in the middle of his term as he was just re-elected in November 2011, but setting his sights on the mayoral seat could mean another opening on the council if he were to be elected.

City public information officer Tom Rodgers, who's watched the evolution of Ottumwa's council for years, said the majority of the public is all too aware of the time that must be committed by council members and the mayor. But divisive issues the past several years could also steer people away from running, he said.

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