BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A familiar name to Fort Madison has emerged as a candidate for the 3rd Ward vacancy in Fort Madison’s City Council.
Donna Amandus, a former candidate for Iowa State Senate and Fort Madison Mayor has informed city officials she has an interest in the seat, but hasn’t yet filed a letter of intent.
The seat was vacated by Tyler Miller on Tuesday when he resigned to move and join the military.
The Fort Madison City Council is accepting those letters of intent until Nov. 10 ,and intends to fill the vacancies by appointment. However if a successful petition for a special election is turned into the city clerk’s office within 14 days of the city publishing it’s intent to appoint, a special election will be called. That special election would trigger an election for both vacancies, according to Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise.
Amandus said she is against the City Council appointing someone to fill the vacancies.
“One thousand percent. This should go in front of the voters,” she said in a call to the Pen City Current Thursday.
The Illinois native grew up in Illinois and moved to Fort Madison 15 years ago and now owns and operates the Yuppy Puppy Pet Parlor in Fort Madison.
Amandus has served on the city’s Board of Adjustments and most recently helped spearhead the creation of the Canine Corral dog park by Rodeo Park.
“I had thought about running before, but I had a couple businesses and I have a teenager, but I made the decision just yesterday and I’ve already had some really good feedback,” she said.
She said she hasn’t heard of anyone else in the ward interested in the position, but said now that she’s out there, others will probably follow.
Amandus said her time on the Board of Adjustments taught her a lot about the city and it’s residents, and she’s worried about some issues facing the city.
“We need to bring businesses here to help us grow and I’ve been worried about the city budget from the moment we got that highway,” she said
“We got that money and my first thought was, ‘Well, that sounds like a lot, but when you think about how much money it takes to maintain even a small stretch of highway, I was worried we weren’t going to have enough or we would move it to the general fund, and that seems to be the path we’re on.”
She also said she’s not sold on the franchise tax yet, but would like to get in and get some more details.
“If we have to we have to, but we can’t keep doing this,” she said. “We’ve got to stop the bleeding and figure out how to turn things around. We have to work together, pool resources and see what we can do.”
Bringing Fort Madison back to the vibrant town it once was and charging up tourism for the area, are top priorities she said.
“We have a beautiful river town that we could get so much tourism coming to. We’re not putting the money into it. We have to work hard to go after funding to promote our town,” she said.
She was happy to hear that Mayor Matt Mohrfeld is asking for comprehensive plans from departments and boards and said that is the right step to turning things around.
“I love the fact that Mohrfeld asked for a 5-year plan from the park board. They are volunteers that have given countless hours trying to make our city better and our parks a place where people even want to come from other towns.”
Amandus likes the current make up of the council and thinks she could be another new fresh set of eyes.
“I’m thrilled that were getting the Rebeccas (Bowker) of the world to come on, and Mark Lair has always been a guy that I can talk to,” she said.
“That’s the kind of council person I want to be. I will be accessible and I won’t miss a meeting. If I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it.”
The city currently plans to make the appointments at the Nov. 17, meeting. City Clerk Melinda Blind said the city plans on publishing its intent at the end of October.