On October 10, 2017, the Muscatine Chapter of the League of Women Voters held a forum showcasing the 11 candidates running for four open seats next month in the Muscatine city election.
On November 7, city residents will decide who will be the next Muscatine mayor, at-large city council member, and council members to represent the 2nd and 4th wards.
Dan Clark, a member of the LWV, served as moderator. The citizens in attendance provided questions that were mostly focused on Muscatine’s city code and the role of elected officials. First, Clark asked the candidates about the city’s current form of government.
Most candidates agreed while Muscatine has a special charter form of government, the code more closely reflects a council-mayor form.
At-large candidate Kerry Denison said the code has been altered. “I don’t know when it was changed, but over time it has, and I think we need to re-visit the code and see what is best for the community.”
While incumbent Scott Natvig said the current form has served the city well for centuries and feels changes are not necessarily needed, challenger Kelcey Brackett argued he would like to see a separate person hired as a city clerk. Currently the City Administrator also serves as the City Clerk.
Mayor Diana Broderson said the city charter has worked for Muscatine but she questions the lasting effects of some of the changes that have been made. “Over the years, [the city has] chipped away at it with various changes that may alone have been beneficial, but left the charter with a much different intent.”
Mayoral Candidate Charlie Harper said, “The mayor-council form has been successful for many years. The checks and balances, I feel, are there and think it can move forward the same it has been.”
Clark addressed the candidates about their opinion of the role of the mayor. Clark asked the candidates if they agreed with the perception that Muscatine’s government was a “weak mayor.”
Fourth ward candidate Larry Murray said, “The mayor is the liaison between city hall and the citizens. Being involved and being able to talk to them is important in ensuring the comfort of the citizens. [We should] make sure the mayor has a role on boards … and the police and fire chief, have control over that. Those are the checks and balances.”
Incumbent At-Large Councilman Scott Natvig felt that the recent actions had more to do with the current actions of people in office. “The rigid approach by the administrator on what the mayor [could] or couldn’t do probably arose from the mayor talking to department heads about things the administrator thought maybe was not routine,” Natvig added. “I agree asking a department head, asking a question or for clarification, seems reasonable to me.”
The election is November 7, 2017. For information on the election visit http://www.co.muscatine.ia.us/144/Auditors-Office