Five candidates eye two seats on SL council
Eric Chase feels he has an obligation to help the people of Storm Lake. As a key issue, he sees improvement needed in the storm water systems and infrastructure. “There is a big storm water runoff that needs to be addressed between Cayuga and Russell Streets. Sometimes the water runs right over the road.” The whole storm sewer system needs to be looked over and brought up to date, he feels. Streets need to be repaired, and sidewalks replaced as a priority, the candidate feels.
As far as housing goes, Chase feels building apartments will help with the housing issues, but they need to be done on the edge of town perhaps further out on East Milwaukee. Trying to find a good compromise to housing is a key issue. “We need 100-300 housing units. Affordable housing is the big issue.” When the average household makes below $50,000 they are “priced right out of the market and forced to live in neighboring towns where housing is more affordable,” he said.
Chase works for Buena Vista County as a GS Coordinator (mapping). He grew up in Sherbin, MN and attended Iowa Lakes College where he majored in geography. He moved to Storm Lake in 2011.
He believes his experience working for the county would give the council a better visual understanding of the community.
Jose Ibarra moved to Storm Lake in 1999 and graduated from Storm Lake High School in 2006. He went to work at U.S. Cellular in Storm Lake then transferred to Marshalltown. In 2014 he relocated back to Storm Lake, now working for Verizon.
Ibarra is also a member of the board of directors of Storm Lake United.
While he has no experience with public office, but believes he can bring a lot to the council, especially with his Latino background. He wants to act as a liaison between the hispanic community and the rest of the city council. “The minorities are the majority and don’t show up to voice their concerns because they feel their voice won’t or can’t be heard or at least understood. I can help with representation for them. They will know what’s going on in their city. The council is flooded with older white folks.”
He believes setting the city council up on social media is a good way of communicating with residents including non-English speakers.
Storm Lake needs more income based housing or a developer to invest in good starter homes so people can move out of the apartments. he adds.
He sees the economy is doing well but would like to see more entertainment. “There is no variety.”
Ibarra wants to see the city work closely with Storm Lake United to bring in more business.
Scott Randall is running because he believes in doing something with a purpose to help in Storm Lake’s growth. He believes he has the business and marketing experience that can help move the City forward.
A housing shortage is a major problem, and people may not be moving to town because there is no housing available for them, he said. “Fifty percent of the houses in Storm Lake were built in the ‘50’s. Only 15% of current homes have been built since 1990. Average income in Storm Lake is $45,000 and the average home costs $180,000 to $250,000,” Randall noted. His idea is to put up manufactured homes, in the same area, aimed at the younger demographics. He believes the are too many ordinances around the Kings Point resort area for developers to come in and build. He would like to see downtown revitalized with more merchants to fill the empty buildings “so people will slow down and take a look at downtown.” Lighting issues downtown also need to be addressed. The last time downtown was refurbished was in 1965, he said. “Most of it is cosmetic but would make downtown more touristy.”
Randall would like the city contribute somehow on the growing need for daycare, perhaps working with Tyson to build a day care. Public safety is also a key issue.
“How many towns can boast about having a lake, university, hospital, public and private schools, and diversity,” he said. “Storm Lake should take what it has and work with it.”
Daniel Smith was born and raised in Storm Lake. He graduated from St. Mary’s in 1968. He worked at Hy-Grade which later became IBP then Tyson, totaling 35 years. He’s never been in politics but believes in being involved.
Smith would like to bring back “The City Beautiful” image to Storm Lake. He would like to research grants to aid with downtown rehabilitation. Storm Lake has Kings Point, but there are few other points of interest or entertainment indoors other than the theater, he feels. “We need shops downtown for people to shop instead of having them shop off the internet. That’s valuable dollars we can keep at home.”
Smith also believes Storm Lake residents need to take pride in their community by tending to their yards.
There is not enough housing, mainly single family units. “We need more homes at affordable prices,” Smith suggested
Infrastructure also needs work and regular attention, he feels. Instead of patching streets, they need to be resurfaced.
Diversity is a way of life for Storm Lake, he feels. “These people are workers. Those with higher education tend to leave town,” he said, hoping for a way to bring better long-term assimilation to the situation.
“This town has a heart and soul,” according to Smith, who recently retired. Smith says he wants the opportunity to help make it healthier.
David Walker moved to Storm Lake in 1998. He has been involved in the Jaycees, Balloon Days Executive Committee, RAGBRI Committee, the Blue Zone Project, helped out with the Star Spangled Spectacular and previously served two terms on the city council.
“I feel I have a lot to offer. Storm Lake is losing more and more people and we need to come up with a comprehensive plan to keep them living in Storm Lake and not in the surrounding towns. I am proud of what our city council has accomplished,” said Walker.
Fixing the housing situation is not going to happen overnight and it’s a very complex problem that is going to take a lot of effort and planning to come to any kind of resolution, he feels.
Walker said the city needs to work on the sidewalk situation to make it safer for children going to and from school as well as those going to get groceries.
Entrepreneurship is important. “We need to encourage new businesses downtown. Storm Lake needs to be more proactive.” Everyone needs to support our schools K-12 and our college, Walker adds.
He feels it would be a good idea to form a consortium to encourage tourism alternatives.
The council should work on finding more ways to get funding to revitalize downtown and reinvesting in the city parks, he also said of his priorities.
He would like to see citizens take pride and ownership. “Little things make a difference.”