MUSCATINE — Nadine Brockert, candidate for Muscatine City Council, heard from residents of the 4th Ward Saturday morning— one of the first campaign events to be held in advance of the Nov. 7 election.
Brockert, who said she will focus on cleaning up Muscatine's Southend, which is part of the 4th Ward, met with about a dozen residents at Hardee's on Grandview Avenue. Muscatine resident Larry Murray also is running for the seat, which is currently held by Councilman Bob Bynum, who has yet to announce if he will seek re-election.
The candidate, a former Monsanto employee, said her goal is to bring more retail, especially a grocery store, to the Southend. Local developers, Tom and Ann Meeker, are redeveloping the Western Mall, but Brockert said the city should continue to offer incentives to bring businesses to the area.
She also proposed fixing up the gateway to the Southend, including maintaining right-of-ways and mowing along roads. Brockert said improvements are needed and she looks forward to seeing a study being conducted about Grandview Drive.
"[The entrance] is people's initial reaction to Muscatine, and we have to maintain it properly," she said.
One resident asked Brockert her opinion about a proposed roundabout that would be built at Carver Corner. Brockert said some research shows roundabouts can be a cheaper and safer option than traditional intersections.
"All we know are the signalized intersections, so it takes a lot of education," she said. "There's such mistrust in town, but if we show people outside studies, we can maybe change hearts and minds."
Dian Maine, a resident, said there should better communication between the city and staff, and asked Brockert how she would improve citizens' trust in the city council.
"We have to build an open and honest network of communication," Brockert answered. "We have to have a lot of communication one-on-one and in groups like this, to get people to trust those who represent them in City Hall."
"I want someone to get in there, and care, and do more than just attend the weekly meetings," Maine said.
The most important ways to move forward, Brockert said, are improving communication and showing mutual respect, but, she added, some changes should possibly be made to city staff. She also favors having a city attorney who lives closer to Muscatine.
Residents also discussed the need to engage children and youth in the community through after-school programs and part-time jobs, but most agreed adding a free entertainment center would not help young people learn or prevent crimes.
Others talked about the Port of Muscatine, which is currently being studied, as a potential use of property owned by Kent Corporation.
Kelcey Brackett, who is running for the at-large city council seat, said he opposes the idea of having a private entity control the port and would prefer the creation of a port authority. Brockert said she worries the city spent a large amount of money studying the potential project, but only looked into one site.
Mayor Diana Broderson, who is seeking re-election, was also in attendance Saturday morning.
Beginning Monday, candidates for mayor and city council could file papers to place their names on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election.