BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld won in what would be considered a landslide despite contender Rodney Hoskins almost doubling his vote count from two years ago.
Mohrfeld captured 564 votes to Hoskins’ 135, unofficially. The Lee County Board of Supervisors will canvass and certify the county votes at their meeting Monday.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the current council and people of Fort Madison and I look forward to doing it for a couple more years,” Mohrfeld said Wednesday.
“I like our town and enjoy being mayor. I always value our heritage and history, but as you’ve heard me say before, I do put value in vision and where it takes us for the future. If you’re doing bold initiatives not everyone’s gonna like the idea. But on the flip side of that, there was still 80% that did come my way and that’s a reassuring affirmation of the direction the mayor and council are headed.”
There were 10 write-in votes for the office.
For Fort Madison City Council, there were no contested races. Rusty Andrews and Tom Schulz retained their seats with Schulz getting 116 votes to six write-ins for 2nd Ward. Andrews was running at-large and was on the ballot at all precincts. He received the highest total votes in the city with 634 against 21 write-ins.
Newcomer Jack Gray received 142 votes in the 4th ward against a single write-in and will take that seat when they are sworn in.
In the hotly contested race for three Fort Madison Community School District Board of Directors, Fort Madison’s Mio Santiago, Paul Wilkerson, and incumbent Brad Menke all won seats on the board.
Santiago had the highest vote total with 779, just 20 ahead of Menke. Wilkerson got the third spot with 724 votes. Incumbent Brian Steffensmeier had 619 votes. Other candidates included Aleena Garr with 267, David Allen with 156, and Jadi Zioui with 76 votes. There were 11 write-in votes.
Santiago said he thinks it was a tough choice for voters in the district with seven solid candidates.
“First of all, I’m honored and humbled to have been elected. With seven candidates this year through the course of the forums, I think it was tough choice for voters and I’m fortunate to be one of them,” Santiago said.
“I’m looking forward to working with Paul and Brad and the existing board to tackle some of the issues that face our school. One of the big ones out of that last work session is the building renovation.”
He said he was most surprised by the people who stopped or wrote him to encourage his campaign.
“That was very gratifying that I had enough of a good reputation to have people encourage me to do this,” he said. “I’m just excited to get going.”
Wilkerson said the results came down the way he thought they would based on interviews and the forums.
“I think the three that were elected will do a good job. But they all had good ideas. I wrote a lot of things down during the forums, thinking ‘that’s a good idea – write it down, and that’s a good idea -write it down’,” he said.
“I feel very fortunate and humble to be elected. I’m really grateful to people who helped me out and stopped me on the street to talk about it.”
Wilkerson said the new board members hit the ground running with a tour of Richardson school next week and then the Iowa Association of School Board’s two-day conference the following week.
“You kind of get to feel good about the election and then quickly that’s over and you roll up your sleeves and get to work,” Wilkerson said.
Menke said the district is losing a strong advocate for the system in Steffensmeier.
“I just want the public to know that one of the guys, Brian, they’re going to lose a hell of an advocate for the school,” Menke said. “But I’m looking forward to working with the other two.”
He said his vote total meant a lot to him because it affirmed his work on the board.
“That means a lot to me and the support from the teachers.”
Current School Board President Dianne Hope said she’s excited to work with the reset board.
“I am very appreciative of all seven candidates and their decision to run for the Fort Madison Community School District Board of Directors. The candidates participated in two public forums, several media interviews, and expressed themselves and their opinions very well,” she said.
“I look forward to having Paul Wilkerson and Mio Santiago join the Board and Brad Menke to serve again. The Board will be having its organizational meeting in December and all three will take office at that time.
“I also want to express my appreciation to Brian Steffensmeier for his service to the District Board these past years.”
Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater said she too is looking forward to working with the next board.
“I am excited as a district that we had so much interest and quality candidates running for school board this election season. That is a healthy indicator of the vitality of the district.”
“I would like to congratulate and welcome Mr. Mio Santiago and Mr. Paul Wilkerson as newly elected board members to the FMCSD Board of Directors, and congratulations to Mr. Brad Menke on winning his second term of service to the FMCSD Board of Directors,” Slater said.
“I would like to thank Mr. Brian Steffensmeier for his work and service over the last four years to the FMCSD Board. I am excited to continue the important work of this school district in partnership with the FMCSD Board of Directors as we continuously strive to do what is best for kids.”