The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

July 16, 2013

Finding candidates for elected office an uphill battle

(Continued)

"Bridge View Center is a good example," he said. "That was a very hard time on this community, and the council was under a lot of pressure from their decision to move forward with it, and there was a lot of opposition. And at that time, there were elected officials actively working against the project.

"I think sometimes the memory of those controversies ... turns people off to the idea of serving in elected office."

Council members have to be intellectual, articulate and thorough in their research in order to know what they're talking about, said Shannon Addison, a former council member.

"You've got to do your homework, especially on the controversial issues," she said. "Unless you've had some exposure to politics of some sort ... you may not have a clue as to how politics really do work — or don't. I think a lot of people are a little gun-shy of that."

And Ottumwans "have never been afraid to speak their mind," Rodgers said, since council members often face a lot of backlash.

"But as an elected official, that's kind of par for the course," he said.

The best city councils represent a wide cross-section of the community, he explained.

"We've had corporate executive types that served that were invaluable, and then we've had more blue-collar type folks serve, and they also brought a very unique perspective," he said. "So really, I think anybody who's interested in the community who's willing to learn and listen and be involved would be a good candidate."

It's never been easy finding Ottumwans willing to run for elected office, so when it comes time to vote, the candidates on the ballot are often elected simply because there were not enough candidates to choose from.

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