There are three candidates seeking the Ward 3 Cherokee City Council seat in the Nov. 8 City Elections, including incumbent Wayne Pingel, and challengers Matthew Royster and Jason Duma Johnson.
As the incumbent, Pingel is seeking his first full term (four years) after being appointed to serve out the term of Greg Stieneke, who resigned midway into his term.
An Aurelia native who helps farm the family farm, Pingel and his wife Kerisa are the parents of three children - Cale age 11, Wyatt age eight, and Levi age seven.
Growing up in a family that stressed community service, along with family, church, and neighbors, Pingel said he has long considered giving back to his community and serving on the City Council is a direct way to accomplish that desire.
"I remember growing up and my grandpa and then my dad emphasizing that any community worth living in is worth giving something back to," said Pingel. "That is why I decided to serve on the Council and to join the volunteer fire department. I'm very proud to serve in those capacities and strive to make a difference in our City and its people."
Pingel said his take on serving on the Council is that although he may not be the smartest person in town, he has a knack of lending some common sense to the process, and a desire to thoroughly do his homework and take the time to prepare before rendering his opinion and, most importantly, his vote.
Pingel also appreciates the job City Administrator Don Eikmeier, the City department heads, and employees do on a daily basis, while battling short budgets and lessening revenue like so many cities of similar size battle.
"The department heads do an awesome job of getting the work done that needs to be done, holding down costs whenever posible, and guiding their lean staffs," explained the Aurelia graduate. "I have no axe to grind. I just want to be involved, inject some common sense, and see the City prosper and grow.
In regards to the proposed $400,000 General Obligation Bond for a new Yacht Club and Maintenenace Shop at Koser Spring Lake Park, Pingel said he has some doubts about the projected costs.
"At first blush, the figures seem way too high," said the incumbent. "We don't need a Taj Mahal. The Yacht Club must be tied to the new Comprehensive Plan and we need to get it out of the flood plain. We need to look at all the options out there for both buildings."
Pingel said he would love to see the tax rates reduced, but the City still has needs that must be met to survive and grow. "We (Council) need to insist on a team approach to help solve our problems. That's always the best way to go."
Ward 3 challenger Duma Johnson is a 1994 Aurelia High School graduate currently employed as a Quality Insurance Inspector at Tyson Retail Deli in Cherokee.
Recently married to wife Jennifer, Johnson served in the United States Navy from 2005-2010 and received his B.A. in Business Administration by attending night school year around for 2 1/2 years while in the Navy serving in Detroit, Mich. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwood University, a Business School in Midland, Mich.
"I didn't want to be an armchair cowboy and sit back and complain about things and then not attempt to do anything about them," explained Johnson. "Why not get out there and make a difference? It may be a thankless job, but if nobody steps up, the town won't grow. I just want to give it (public service) a shot."
When he came back home to live, Johnson said it annoyed him when friends and others would ask, "What are you doing back here?
"Well, since I left for the service and college, I've seen businesses leave and close down and not much added. This is a great place to live and raise a family. We have nice amenities, but what good are they if you don't grow the people?
"We've got to get some jobs here. I was raised if you don't have the money, you don't spend it."
Johnson said he thinks the proposed new Yacht Club at Koser Spring Lake Park is a luxury the City can't afford at this time. He said he needs to give more study to the options available for the proposed new Park Maintenance building, but reiterates, if the money's not there, you simply can't afford them."We don't need them right now. We're already in debt," said Johnson.
Challenger Matthew Royster, a native of Mount Airy, N.C., came to Cherokee in 2005 and serves as a Psychologist at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO) at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute.
In addition, he and wife Valorie, a Hartley native, own the recently established private practice of Royster and Royster Counseling PLLC, at 204 W. Maple St. in Cherokee. Mathew also served as a volunteer Cherokee reserve police Officer from 2006-2010 until deciding to open the clinic.
Matthew is the father of three boys - Kaeleb age 12, Kaiden age 10, and Kameron age 8.
Primary among his goals, Royster said he's seeking the Council post to help improve Cherokee's economy, City beautification, and the safety of the community.
He said he will work to improve all City parks, establish a dog park in town maintained by user fees, re-open the ice skating rink on East Main Street, slow traffic in residential areas, stimulate growth for local business, improve family activity opportunities, encourage more volunteerism, and seek funding for appropriate sewer systems to prevent back-up flooding such as in 2010.
"Our tax percentages here are no problem, it's how we're spending it that matters," explained Royster. He also questions how the City has been proceeding on the proposed new Yacht Club and Maintenance building at Koser Spring Lake Park.
If elected, he said he also would work to relocate the Wescott Park softball fields out of the flood plain to save the money that is annually poured back into them to sustain and rehab them through the frequent flooding.
"I love this town. We've adopted it. It's our home town now and we're putting down roots," explained Royster. "I've always heard that Iowans rally together to help each other through the bad times, but I don't always see it. It's time to roll up our sleeves and work together to make this wonderful community all that it can be."