Mohrfeld for Mayor, Hamelton should get a spot


Fort Madison Partners hooked us up with another candidate forum this week.

We got a no-so-good look at those who had the courage to put their names on a ballot to serve their community.

Putting your name on any ballot takes courage. Getting up in front of a group of people and telling them why you’re better, in this particular case, than the other guy, takes even more courage. And then to do it when it’s livestreamed to many, many others is even more gutsy.

So let’s just stipulate that you deserve respect for throwing your name in the proverbial hat.

But after that initial stipulation, there wasn’t much taken away from the debate.

The challengers for the mayoral race were pretty much uninformed. And that’s a waste of time.

Both had trouble completing thoughts and, in some cases, even complete sentences.

We don’t carry the water here. And people may think we do, but all you’d have to do is ask any elected official if Pen City Current is in the bag and you’ll get a chuckle, and a quick No.

But Mayor Matt Mohrfeld again stood legs, hips, arms, shoulders, and neck above the other two candidates.

Rodney Hoskins has put his name in for mayor now for a third time and everyone deserves their shot. We also must have an election and not a coronation. But this is the closest we’ve ever been of putting a crown on someone. On several occasions Hoskins answers were less than clear, prompting an unsavory comment from challenger Jerry Reuther.

Mohrfeld had plans, data, coherent thoughts, and a zest to see through to the end, the projects the city has put in motion. A new fire station, a new public works building, road improvements, and yes, an unapologetic 5-star marina.

Reuther had no concrete plans other than to get to work and find things for people in Fort Madison to do. It’s not without merit, but there was nothing concrete, when several of the questions asked for specifics. Mohrfeld provided specifics, everyone else just chatter.  He also said he had little to no knowledge of critical new state property tax laws or the city’s agenda.

So let’s just put this where it is and say Mohrfeld, of the three candidates put in front of us, is unequivocally and inarguably the best candidate to keep leading the city.

Progress is visible and almost contagious. You may not like the way it’s being done, but it’s tough to say it would get done any other way. Mohrfeld for Mayor.

So that brings us to what was a fairly interesting challenge to the Fort Madison City Council at-large seat.

Jerry Hamelton made a very interesting comment. His past candidacies have included ballots, special elections, and appointments to try to bring a different voice to the council.

Kevin Rink, who has served more than a decade on the council, made the case for being part of moving the city forward. Rink has been a visible part of the city for more than 20 years volunteering with social service clubs and on various other committees.

However, Hamelton made an interesting case for a dissenting opinion. Some of the best laws in the land have been shaped by visceral dissent on the courts of the state and nation. Someone who’s always looking at the other side of things can be very productive.

Hamelton admittedly isn’t seen as much in town events as Rink, but said he needs to be on the council to provide that other opinion. He was also very brisk at attacking Mohrfeld and his relationship with nephew Michael who are at the front of both the public, non-profit, and private operations of the city’s new marina.

There’s a lot of sentiment about that relationship being counter-productive to a sense of fair play. That’s a legitimate concern from a small community. However, we are a small community and those relationships are common. And you also have to ask yourself, if not them, who? The marina renovation has been talked about for more than a decade, but under Mohrfeld(s) leadership and investments, it’s now almost done. And this is no small venture. Anyone who has seen the reconstructed view and efficiency of the marina can’t be anything but impressed. I’m more than excited to sit on that patio with a salad and a drink. The view is incredible – most likely to be described as the very best views of any marina or restaurant in the state. We’re not sure when all the blue water will arrive, but other than that, this is very likely the 5-star marina the mayor promised.

But Hamelton pushed back on the city’s $1.5 million spend saying those funds should have gone to a new fire department or public works building. We don’t agree or disagree with that statement, but the process may be the win.

There are other seats up for election but none opposed so the council will remain intact with either Rink or Hamelton taking this at-large seat, but we think it’s time city voters put Hamelton on the council to be that voice.

Keep in mind it’s one vote of seven, and that’s not meant to devalue the power of that one vote.  However, Hamelton is engaged at least in the financial workings of the city, although not engaged publicly like the others. Maybe a seat at the table brings a productive mind and a powerful dissent to the discussion.

In this small of a community, it’s imperative that we give proper consideration to the dissent and, if Hamelton’s willing to be that voice, maybe after failed attempts to be elected and appointed it’s prudent that we look in that direction.

And as far as looking in different directions, we were invited to see the progress of the marina on Thursday and a look in any direction on the patio of that future hospitality center gives anyone the sense of something great coming, and it is – But that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at

Fort Madison, Beside the Point, opinion, Editorial, Chuck Vandenberg, Pen City Current, Sunday, marina, elections, endorsements, Jerry Hamelton, Matt Mohrfeld,


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  • Truthbomb

    I agree, after watching the livestream, that Mohrfeld has his ducks in a row which makes him the best candidate of the ones available. Just really wish that he had more to say about bringing well-paying jobs to this community. We cannot sustain ourselves on an overabundance of retail and service industry jobs...especially when a big chunk of our town can't even afford to pay for those things on a consistent basis. And we cannot sustain ourselves on 'tourism' that revolves around a river that can/will only be utilized 3-5 months out of the year for most recreational users.

    Hopefully Hamelton's dissenting voice will be available on the council so others can be nudged out of their comfort zones consider the entire town when it comes to wants and needs. And also, just maybe, address the nepotism that might be in existence.

    Monday, October 30, 2023 Report this

  • Temerity

    Dissension for the sake of dissension does not benefit the public. Educated dissension and questions of the status quo does.

    Hamelton’s refusal to view the the SE economy is evidence of lack of preparation and knowledge of what is affecting our area. We have a strong industry base here, one of the challenges they face is enough labor to fill the existing jobs. Even if we were to magically bring a 1000 people here (or half of that) where would they live? We need to address housing shortages and amenities before we can we say “hey come to SE Iowa to live, work and play”. Saying that industry is not coming here because of the franchise fee is based on a lack of knowledge. Basing a whole platform on inflammatory talking points but having no data to support it is just pot-stirring.

    Let’s talk about tourism. The # 1 tourism industry in SE Iowa is business. I bet ya a strong second will be the marina. Whether you are a boater or not, the marina will offer a restaurant, bar, views, walking path and updated facilities. This is a win-win for the investment. There are a lot of draws that FM can boast. Trains are one of them. That is why the Depot has been such a great addition to our east end.

    Finally, I do believe that Mr, Rink should be given gratitude for his service, I also believe that his replacement (if elected) should make a concerted effort to look at all of the data, not just the opinions that get him the headlines he so desires.

    Monday, October 30, 2023 Report this