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Charles City Council candidates answer questions

By Bob Steenson,

As part of the Press’ coverage of the upcoming city and school board elections, we asked the Charles City Council candidates to respond to a questionnaire requesting biographical information and asking them to respond to a set of questions focused on each race.

In the election for Charles City Council, there are two seats opening up and two candidates, so the likelihood is that they both will be elected.

DeLaine Freeseman is seeking his fifth term on the City Council. Patrick Lumley is seeking his first stint in elected public office. The other incumbent whose seat is open, Jerry Joerger, is not running for re-election.

Absentee voting in the Floyd County Auditor’s Office can be done now Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and extended hours until 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 and Nov. 1.

Polling hours on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2, are 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters will vote at their regular polling place.

Absentee ballots must be received in the county auditor’s office, either by mail or in person, by the time the polls close on election day to be counted.

Here are the answers from the candidates for Charles City Council:

DeLaine Freeseman

Charles City Council candidates answer questions
DeLaine Freeseman

DeLaine Freeseman, age 64, has been married to his wife, Jane, for 44 years. They have two sons and three grandchildren. Freeseman has worked at First Citizens Bank for 26 years.

Freeseman said he has served four terms on the City Council, two terms on the Charles City Community School District Board of Education, has served on the boards for the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Charles City, has been a Lions Club member for more than 40 years, in addition to serving on “numerous other committees over the years.”

What are you running for this position?

I believe the city of Charles City has a lot of good things going on right now and is headed in a good direction. I would like to be a part of seeing that continue. I would like to see projects currently under way to their completion (the Fiber to the Home Project to name one). I have enjoyed my time on the council thus far, and I appreciate the confidence shown in me by the citizens of the community in past elections, and I am hopeful of continuing to serve them for another term.

​​What do you consider the top 3 challenges facing the community, and how would you deal with each of them?

1) Housing – I think there are several good things happening regarding this challenge right now. The Union House (formerly McQuillen) project is nearing the point of being able to start renting apartments. The 500 N. Grand property (Foutch project) sounds as if it will start moving forward within the next year. The former Jefferson School site housing project has a new contractor and there is renewed activity there as well.

I believe the city should be involved in the encouragement of, and when appropriate financially incent, all such projects so long as they are well planned/designed, and fiscally/financially feasible.

2) Economic Development – I believe the city needs to be an active “partner” in all economic development activities together with our local Area Development Corp. (ADC), Chamber of Commerce, and Floyd County, to name a few of the other “players.” The city needs to be ready to join in conversations on projects presented, and when appropriate, look for ways to provide incentives (if necessary) to projects deserving of that assistance.

I believe the current Fiber to the Home Project is an important part of the economic development of our city. If this past year has shown us nothing else, it has shown us how important access is to good reliable internet. It needs to be consistent, fast, affordable, and provide excellent customer service.

3) Problem/blighted properties – A few years ago the council added a line item to the budget to allow the city to take action with regard to these properties. Over the past few years several properties have been purchased by the city and removed.

Right now, we have more properties on our list of properties that need remediation than there is budget for. Work on these types of issues needs to continue. I don’t know that we will ever be able to address all such properties, but we certainly need to continue this process at this time!

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our city?

I have been willing to speak/meet with anyone at any time that I’ve been approached regarding something going on at the city. I have provided my phone number and email to the public, and I always provide a response when contacted. If I don’t have an answer directly I will either direct the inquiry to someone at City Hall that can answer the question better than I can, or I contact someone and find out the answer and get back to the individual.

I’ve met with people in their neighborhood to view something they believe to be an issue and tried to work to resolve their question to the best of my ability. I always encourage residents to make their opinions known on subject matters that come before the council. That’s the best way for the council to truly know what the community is really thinking.

If you received a $1 million grant that you could spend on the city in any way you want, what would you do and why? 

First, I would divide the grant funds into smaller funds to try and make as much of a broad impact as one could. I would put a portion of the funds toward the Fiber to the Home Project. I truly believe that project has merit for the long-term viability of our community.

I would also put some of these funds into our problem/blighted property fund so the city could take more action in this area. Some of the funds would be set-aside for the marketing of our community for economic development purposes. We could do a better job in this area currently (primarily due to budget constraints).

I would like to see some funds expended for a restroom/shower facility somewhere near the Whitewater course so people who come to our community to utilize that park would have a place to clean up after being in the water. (Maybe they might come back more often and bring others with them!) There are many worthwhile projects deserving of funds, but these would lead my list.

Why should voters pick you?

I will do the best job my abilities will allow me to do for the community. I take the responsibility of being elected to this position very seriously! I feel it is my duty to come to meetings prepared and ready to discuss the matters on the agenda. I try to educate myself on the issues at hand as best I can so I can make informed decisions.

I always try to keep in mind that our community is made up of a wide array of ages, ethnicities, beliefs, income levels, and expectations and each of those perspectives is important in the decision-making process.

Patrick Lumley

Charles City Council candidates answer questionsPatrick Lumley, age 54, is married to spose Candice Coen Lumley and has children. He is currently a senior systems consultant and business analyst for CACI International Inc. Lumley said he previously served 21 years active duty in the Navy, and is in his 15th year as a defense contractor, for a total of 36 years of government service.

Why are you running for this position?

Charles City, America’s Hometown, is a great place to live, work and raise a family. With duty stations across the United States and overseas in cities big and small and having seen the good and bad within those cities, we moved to Charles City in 2006 to enjoy the benefits of living in a small yet vibrant town with a strong school system.

Charles City, like many big and small cities across the country faces unique challenges such as aging infrastructure, suitable housing, effects of global warming, etc. As a city, we have a well-diverse mayor and council, knowledgeable and proactive city administrator, city engineer, city staff, employees and citizens that truly care about the city and its future.

I look forward to continuing to work on the strategic planning the city and staff have assembled, continue to update and see the results of that hard work and dedication to continue making Charles City a great place to live, work and raise a family.

What do you consider the top 3 challenges facing the community, and how would you deal with each of them? 

1) Aging Infrastructure – While not on the forefront of everyone’s mind daily, the community infrastructure is aging just like every other community across the country. The deterioration of the former Charley Western Bridge is a good reminder that infrastructure does not last forever.

While the tornado of May 15th, 1968, caused significant damage to the city and I hope the city never encounters another one, the upside was a host of new buildings and supporting infrastructure that are now starting to age out (53 years and counting) and may not be truly cost effective in the future to maintain without redesign or reconfiguration.

The city government along with many contributors have done a nice job laying out capital improvements as result of the city comprehensive plan devised in 2018. Every year, we are seeing the results of that planning, development and execution. We need to keep re-assessing and updating the comprehensive plan as the infrastructure and capital improvements needs of the community change and continue to set aside funding or matching funding for future projects.

2) Variety of housing options – Like many cities across the country, the lack of viable housing options based on the medium wage earned is an ever-growing concern. Further explore enhancements to established residential neighborhoods, creation of new residential neighborhoods and plan to ensure an adequate housing supply that meets both the existing and forecasted housing demand based on age and wage demographics. Increased access to housing increases economic growth within the community.

3) Blighted property – A long-standing topic of concern and on-going action withing the community. Living next door to or even down the street from an empty house with broken-out windows and doors raises fear of fire and crime in the neighborhood. First responders encounter dangers of entering such a structure without any light or certainty about who or what is inside. Property values are likely reduced in the area.

The city has been proactive in updating code and subsequent enforcement to include removal of various at-risk and dilapidated properties in recent years. A continual review, potential stronger language withing the existing code to continue making Charles City a thriving community and the ability to attract new businesses and residents to further bolster our tax base to fund future capital improvement projects.

How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our city?

Like cities across the country, greater public involvement is needed and should be desired to ensure government accountability, transparency and collaboration. Council meetings and planning sessions are open to the public via dedicated public comment periods, yet participation and or constructive feedback is low.

Continue to promote face-face interaction. Technology has changed how we interact with others and in our community in both positive and negative aspects. Continue to explore various venues of communication to receive public input and retain current methods such as local radio and newsprint which are worth their weight in gold in disbursing city updates and happenings.

Some additional examples include:

  • Crowdsourcing – An open online or write-in questionnaire process, in which the community is invited to submit, discuss, and refine ideas as it relates to city government and the forward progress of Charles City. Where do the city stakeholders (it’s citizens) see the city moving forward in the next 5, 10 or 15 years as it relates to comprehensive planning and execution with a keen eye on fiducial responsibility.
  • Bi-annual town hall meetings – An opportunity to directly engage the public and for the city entities to convey short and long-term goals and solicit public input as the city moves forward.
  • Social media – Further enhance the city footprint in social media with news and updates and facilitate the open engagement of a large group of citizens as it relates to comprehensive planning and execution.
  • Electronic signage – Located at key well-traveled areas in town, offers the ability to not only promote local organizations and happenings with the community but also request (reminders) involvement at key meetings where public input is needed to continue mapping out the future of the city.

If you received a $1 million grant that you could spend on the city in any way you want, what would you do and why?

I would target projects that would benefit every age group in the Community, to include:

  • Enhancements/updates to the Senior Citizens Center or a combination Community Center tied into the existing Senior Citizens Center. Expand and or update the kitchen and dining, social, activity areas. Enable the entire community to further enjoy activities, meals or celebrate special family occasions at a reasonable rate which for large family celebrations that outgrow the individual home, the available options are becoming harder to find without paying a substantial price to rent.
  • A splash pad for the younger children of the community, strategically placed within one of the city parks to maximize the usage for picnics, family reunions, etc. Not every family in the community can afford a seasonal pool pass and this provides an alternative and enhancement for family get-togethers or activities during the summer months.
  • A permanent band shell (equipped with sound and lighting like Mickelson Park in New Hampton) to showcase the vast performing music and art talent we have in the community. Investment opens the door to not only showcase our community talent, but events (holiday lighting and decorations in the non-summer/fall months as example) or other entertainment events can be brought into the community to boost the social activity and be centrally located with ample green space, parking, restrooms, vicinity of the Charley Western Trail or current park systems to enhance the experience and enjoyment.

Why should voters pick you?

I am running because we live in an awesome community. I want to do my part to keep Charles City a great place to live, work and raise a family. I see opportunities to make our city even better and, like cities across the United States, I also see challenges coming before us.

I am seeking a seat on the City Council because I like to roll up my sleeves, plan and work through those challenges, see the results of the hard work first-hand and help Charles City continue to thrive for decades to come. I have a genuine passion for this community, its people and its future success.


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