BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Third ward City Councilman Tyler Miller will resign from the Fort Madison City Council effective Wednesday.
Miller announced the resignation Monday afternoon and confirmed that he sent a letter to Mayor Matt Mohrfeld and City Manager David Varley. He’s resigning the post following Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Miller served just under a year on the council after being elected in 2019 running unopposed for the 3rd Ward after Matt Morhfeld vacated the seat to run for mayor.
“I’m leaving for Texas in November and joining the Army,” Miller said Monday.
“I just had a lot of things change this year and that opened up the avenue for me. Nothing was necessarily holding me back from being able to pursue that.”
Miller said the military will open up resources for him to obtain a four-year degree and that’s something he’s wanted to do for the past couple years.
The 22-year old is the director of maintenance at Merschman Fertilizer and will continue that work until he leaves for Texas.
He said leaving so soon in an elected term isn’t something he envisioned when running for office last year.
“The one thing that I don’t want to do is set a bad precedent for another young person not to step up and do this,” he said.
“More power to them. You do have to get the youth activated in Fort Madison.”
Looking down the road, Miller said if he does want to pursue a political career, the education and the military service will serve him well.
Getting to sit behind senior council members, learning the language and processes of serving the city, has been rewarding.
“I wasn’t as busy as I thought I was going to be, I guess. But just after the election there were some hard hitting things that came forward and slowed things down,” Miller said.
Miller said he’s happy with things that are going on in the city including progress with the marina and city streets.
He said the beginning of the year gave him pause to think about what he wanted to do with his life.
“I took a breath and looked at a lot of things and the wheels started turning and I realized that it wasn’t so much about me wanting to serve, but needing to serve.”
Miller has a brother already enlisted and has another younger brother just finishing up high school that is also leaning toward enlisting right out of high school.
“That kind of inspired me, too.”
He said he has some regrets about not being able to fill the term, but also is looking forward to what the future holds
“I was really looking forward to spending those four years here and after my first year starting to learn how everything works. I wanted to see how I could split my time between work and the city and make a positive impact,” Miller said.
One thing he said he’d like to see the council improve on is the budgeting process. He said the time allowed wasn’t adequate and the city might need to consider some professional assistance in putting future budgets together.
According to Iowa Code, the City Council will have 60 days to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next city election in 2021, or during any special election held in that time period.
A petition can be filed by voters to have the seat filled by special election. That would require enough signatures to represent the lesser of 15% of the total ballots case in the last election where city council members were elected, or 200. A special election would fill the vacancy throughout the unexpired term.
Miller said he ran because he cared.
“I wanted to get involved. If I would have had someone run against me and I lost, I would be on a board or something,” he said.
“I didn’t run because there was a big ticket item I wanted to get passed. I ran because I care about people in this community and the issues they are facing. If they called me, I showed up at their house to see how I could help. I just wanted to make my community a better place”
Miller was working on task forces for dilapidated housing and was asked by Mohrfeld to help lead those efforts.
He said everyone at City Hall does their job to the best of their ability, but was frustrated they didn’t speak up more at meetings, particularly about the budget
“I was frustrated with the budget and very vocal about it. But as long as the frustration comes from a good place and wanting to see the positivity in the community come back, frustration is OK,” Miller said.
Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld said he was excited to have someone with youth and enthusiasm on the board, but also respects Miller’s decision to better his life and serve his country.
“God bless him for wanting to help better the city, and God bless him for wanting to better himself. He wants to serve the country and I get it.”
Mohrfeld said he’s spoken with four people about the vacancy but said anyone interested in filling the position should call him directly at 1-319-470-0937.
“This doesn’t have to be about politics. If someone is out there that has ever had an inclination they should give me a call and I’d like to talk to them about it.”
Mohrfeld said the council will move forward with filling the position by appointment.