Opponent Hoskins wants better communication and better streets
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Current Mayor Matt Mohrfeld says Fort Madison has a lot of positive energy and he wants at least two more year to capitalize on that.
But Rodney Hoskins II said there are more pertinent priorities including better communication with the citizenry and fixing the streets.
The two are both on the ballot Tuesday for election as Fort Madison’s Mayor. The mayor’s seat is a two-year term.
Mohrfeld said there will be a time when he won’t put his name on a ballot anymore, but he doesn’t want painted in the corner.
“There will come a time when I don’t put my name on a ballot, but don’t point me in that direction. A year ago I wouldn’t have told you I’d be recovering from surgery.”
Mohrfeld underwent a medical procedure earlier this fall and missed just one council meeting.
“There are projects that I’m going to see through,” he said. “You might have heard that my wife wasn’t enamored of me running for mayor, but now she’s like, “you started all this stuff, you’re not getting out now.”
Morhfeld said the city has a lot of energy and there are still things to get him more energized.
He has been pushing to get the Amtrak Depot moved back to Riverview Park, a baton he picked up from former Mayor Brad Randolph, who picked it up from the late Steve Ireland.
“We’re gonna get this depot done before Christmas,” he said.
He told Fort Madison City Council that people would be driving on the next new section of highway by Thanksgiving. His goal of having the new marina’s hospitality center open by April 1 may not happen however.
But it’s that energy and the people behind it that have him wanting to stay on and lead the city through the growth cycle. He said it’s even permeated to the council themselves.
“Now we’re engaging council in projects and that’s cooler than hell. The PORT Trail is getting more money, we want to see this Humphrey building through to improvement,” he said.
“There are some concrete things on the table, and then there’s this thing about gaining some ground on curb appeal and mitigating more dilapidated structures.”
Mohrfeld’s main thrust over the past year has been bringing a multi-million dollar five-star marina to the city’s water front. He’s been the frontman in securing grants and both public and private funding, which has resulted in the old marina building being torn down, all the old docks being removed and dredging set to begin in the next week.
Hoskins said too much effort has been placed on the marina and he would prefer the city continue its focus on improving streets. He said the marina project should have gone to the voters.
“On the marina issue, I’m sorry, but I’m indecisive right now,” Hoskins said. “One, I would rather see that go to our city streets. Until it floods, and they can give me science information I can comprehend, it should go to the city for the decision and not the council.”
Hoskins said the city has “overstepped their bounds” when it comes to the budget and spending. He said sometimes in the budgets he’s looked at, the numbers don’t make sense.
“I think that we’ve overstepped our bounds on certain things. We should be mainly concerned with how we’re using the people’s money. There’s not even a tax relief right now that I can see. I know we are trying to do the best we can, but at given times, we’ve literally stepped over things.”
Mohrfeld said any mayor is only as good as the council and city staff they are working with.
He pointed to efforts from councilwomen Donna Amandus and Rebecca Bowker who have taken leads with several city groups. Bowker is leading a beautification effort and has spearheaded improvements to the city’s pocket park downtown and advocacy efforts.
Amandus has spearheaded the effort to get the city’s new dog park up by Rodeo Arena and is now working to get pickleball courts built at Victory Park.
Mohrfeld said Councilman Rusty Andrews is involved with almost every city special event and brings a unique insight to capital projects. Chad Cangas is leading a public safety effort as is Tom Schulz, and Kevin Rink brings a wealth of experience.
“They’re good to work with and I want to continue that. Does that mean there are times when we disagree, I certainly hope so,” Mohrfeld said.
He calls holding the mayor’s gavel a journey and never a destination.
“I know that’s cliche, but we’ve looked at too many projects as one and done. The best example of that is the side street ongoing improvement – has to be done. We have to be diligent on quality staffing – has to be done. And as I’m walking downtown, I’m seeing something needs to be done with those sidewalks and streets. The idea is forward motion.
“No one thing is a solution to all the problems, but a little bit of all of them gets us there.”
Hoskins said a lot of the projects are being done without regard for all the citizens and he wants voters to know that he will be accessible on any subject.
“I tell myself there’s a few things I would do. Right now our community is slowly getting back to being united. The one differential is the community looks at the physical fact that we used to be a friendly environment and everyone’s coasted their own way to lean against this person or that person,” he said.
“If everyone would realize that a political party can be different. I came up with the conclusion that no matter what side of the street you live on, you’re going to have conflict. But at the end of the day, you can still be friends and neighbors.”
Hoskins also said he has concerns about police operations and the number of officers that have either left or been let go. He said he doesn’t think anyone’s doing a bad job in the department, but the city needs to look into those trends.
“It’s the perseverance of our community. When we overshoot our bounds, and I’m not saying anybody’s doing a bad job of it, the numbers don’t add up at given times. We project but I’ve even seen at times when it comes to seeing things through, we’ve had to overstep our bounds,” Hoskins said.
“I want to be loyal to the city. I don’t care what side of the block or street you’re from. I don’t criticize anyone unless they deserve it. But I look myself in the mirror and ask myself if I handled it right or handled it wrong.”
He said communication would be a top priority.
“I want the citizens to realize that, basically with me, I’m making this their top priority. They can come to me and they know it. They have full rights to come talk to me about things. I won’t decline anyone the right to a meeting. The community knows where I stand. I’m an individual just like they are.”