Walsh runs unopposed for mayor, foresees needs, projects on horizon
Kevin Walsh will be the sole candidate on the ballot for Alta mayor in the upcoming municipal election.
The current city council member had been weighing his options for some time. “Two years ago I was appointed by the former mayor to fill a vacancy on the council, and that has allowed me to kind of get my feet wet in city government. Back in August I really didn’t know what I was going to do yet, but I started to give it more serious thought. When I filed for mayor, I really expected that I would have some competition,” he said.
“I want to go back to good old hometown boy leadership,” he says. “I’ve spent my whole life in Alta - this is where I raised my children and I understand the community. I think there are different ways to lead, I think I can provide a little different style of leadership.”
The community has changed somewhat in recent years, he noted. “There was a time I could say I probably knew three-fourths of the people in town, and that might not be the case any more. But the people who do know me and those who will be voting I think will be able to have confidence that I have the community’s bests interests at heart.”
In terms of issues, Walsh feels infrastructure will need attention moving forward.
“We have issues that are going to have to address, sooner rather than later - streets, sewers that I understand are going on a century old. Not that this council hasn’t talked about these things, but I think we will need to get more serious about it starting next year. We need to be prepared so a lot of work doesn’t hit us really hard all at the same time.”
Like other cities across the state, finance will be a major issue. “Unfortunately we have had to raise taxes a couple of times, I don’t want to do that again. We will have to find some creative ways of funding things.” For example, Walsh said he would like to work with the local elevator to find a way to improve the road as it turns into town from Highway 7, so it doesn’t continue to require repair every five years. He also thinks the city can do more to seek grants that could help finance improvement efforts.
The city swimming pool is relatively unchanged from the time he swam there as a child 60 years ago, he said. “Alta isn’t able to take on a multi-million-dollar project, I understand that, but there are things we can work towards to make the pool a good experience, and I have some ideas,” he said.
Walsh also feels the town needs a grocery store. “I know several councils had talked about it, and basically given up on it being feasible. We know that some big grocery company isn’t going to come in and build a new, big store, but I know other communities have found ways to help make something like a local store possible, even having volunteers come in to work some hours. We’re not a tiny town - we have close to 2,000 people, and having a grocery just says something about your community.”
Main Street also needs improvement, and has some vacancies, as is common for smaller Iowa cities. Walsh hopes the community can work with utility companies to make some improvements in the downtown area, and encourage entrepreneurs with the right kind of products to launch business ventures. He said the local cafe is a good example of entrepreneurs realizing a need and filling it successfully.
A key to keeping Alta vibrant is to find ways to get the community involved in volunteerism and projects, he believes.
There is much to be proud of in Alta, he stresses. “We have a great school system within town that we want to support all we can, a great park and a park board that has plans to improve the playgrounds, a good community building, a lot of good, caring people who know one another in our neighborhoods. As Mayor Clark pointed out at our last meeting, some of the things we take on shouldn’t just be seen as an expense, but an investment.
“I’m a firm believer that when you find that project the town can wrap its arms around, this community will grab it pretty well. If everyone could get as excited about doing something with our pool as they were about building our Altagether playground, or our ball diamonds that are second to none, we could certainly achieve something.”
Walsh was born and raised in Alta, and continues to work in the electrical distribution sales field. He has previous experience with city government with 15 years volunteering on the Alta Utility Board, including serving as past chairperson.
“If the voters allow, I look forward to serving our community and helping to do positive things for Alta,” he said.