Editor's note: Candidates from all four seats up for election on Nov. 7 will be included in Q&As throughout the week. For the full interviews, visit muscatinejournal.com.

MUSCATINE — Muscatine voters will cast ballots next Tuesday for four open seats in city government.

Positions up for election this year are mayor, an at-large city council member, as well as council members in the 2nd and 4th wards. Eleven candidates are running for the seats.

Ahead of the election, the Muscatine Journal asked candidates questions to gauge their goals and interests if they successfully take office. 

2nd Ward Seat

Osmond "Oz" Malcolm, newcomer

Osmond "Oz" Malcolm, 60, is a volunteer with the Salvation Army of Muscatine, and works with churches and youth groups. He has lived in Muscatine for six years.

Why did you decide to run for Muscatine City Council?

The need for true governmental leadership and community representation.

What do you think is the most serious issue facing residents in your ward?

Well planned economic development and (past due) infrastructure repairs.

Some residents have said it is difficult to speak up at city council meetings or talk to their council member, and have claimed there is a climate of fear in city government. Do you believe this is an issue, and if so, how would you work to change that perception?

Yes, this is a real and/or perceived issue. I propose that a set amount of time be set aside at council’s meetings, for the community to voice their cares and/or concerns. Additionally, I plan to sponsor monthly meetings with the community’s residents regarding the issues which are before me. Lastly, I am planning to open an 2nd Ward office for the community to have open access to me.  

The city recently released a housing study that found there is a need for low and moderate-income housing. What do you think is the biggest gap or issue in the current housing market, and how should that be addressed?

Yes, there is a great need for low to moderate income housing here in Muscatine.  I believe that some of this can be solved by transforming the large abandon housing property listing; herein town, into low and moderate-income housing sites.  Additionally, the city of Muscatine could seek U.S. Housing Urban & Development (HUD) grants for Scattered Sites Housing for low and moderate-income. The use of Tax Increment Funding (TIFs) for development could be considered, as well. 

Muscatine has been moving forward on some environmental initiatives, with the potential food waste-to-fuel program at the Water Pollution Control Plant and efforts to win funding for compressed natural gas buses. How much of a priority should it be for Muscatine to decrease its carbon footprint, improve air or water quality, or work to address other environmental issues?

I believe that these are very important issues.  Maybe Muscatine can develop a doable five-year plan, which uses the best current science and information from the federal and state EPAs. 

After a controversial past term between the mayor and city council, what should city council members do, if anything, to win trust back with Muscatine residents? What do you see as the biggest issues, if any, that arose from the mayor removal?

Trust is the biggest issue that I see from the past events. The citizens do not have faith and/or confidence in their city government. The solution to repair the damage is unknown to me, at this time; however, it will have to be addressed by the entire city government.

What do you view as the most important role of a Muscatine City Council member?

I believe that I should carefully explain to the residents the issues in full detail.  I will listen to their thoughts and concerns, and vote on the issues on the way of their voice.  (In short, if the community says, “no” to an issue; then, my vote is “no” to that issue.). 

Michael Rehwaldt, incumbent

Michael Rehwaldt was born and raised in Muscatine, attended Muscatine Schools and the University of Iowa. He left the city for more than 25 years for career purposes and then returned to Muscatine.

Why did you decide to run for Muscatine City Council?

I was encouraged to run by some friends. I vividly recall my father's service on the council and how much he enjoyed it and how very interesting he found the work. The duty to help my community with volunteer service was inculcated in me by my father. It is a tribute to him that I decided to run and serve on the city council.

What do you think is the most serious issue facing residents in your ward?

Public Safety is the paramount responsibility of the city government and always will be. Muscatine has an award-winning superior ambulance service staffed by highly trained firefighters all cross-trained as expert firefighters as well as medical technicians of the highest degree. Our police department is well manned and concentrates on community relations in order to facilitate communication between the police and neighborhoods in case of an incident. Constant training is a daily pursuit.

It is the duty of the Council to guard the citizen's money. This council has NOT raised the city tax levy in seven years, might be a record in the state.

Some residents have said it is difficult to speak up at city council meetings or talk to their council member, and have claimed there is a climate of fear in city government. Do you believe this is an issue, and if so, how would you work to change that perception?

Every council member has their phone number on the city website and is available to any caller. Council members take this very seriously. At the beginning of each council meeting, anyone who would like to speak is invited to do so. Their is no element of fear in the city government (whatever that means). It is a non-issue.

The city recently released a housing study that found there is a need for low and moderate-income housing. What do you think is the biggest gap or issue in the current housing market, and how should that be addressed?

The housing study clearly laid out the housing needs within the city.  This report can be used in a variety of ways. First, when a developer proposes elderly or low to moderate housing projects the council does whatever it can to help make it happen. Second, the results of the study can be taken to developers of different types of housing to prove the market readiness of the housing needs. 

Muscatine has been moving forward on some environmental initiatives, with the potential food waste-to-fuel program at the Water Pollution Control Plant and efforts to win funding for compressed natural gas buses. How much of a priority should it be for Muscatine to decrease its carbon footprint, improve air or water quality, or work to address other environmental issues?

Muscatine is on the forefront of new environmental methods and plant.  The wastewater plant is working on a refit that will benefit the citizenry in many ways— reducing the amount put in the landfill, producing gas to sell to utilities and/or use to power vehicles. We have appropriated money for a fueling station for the first fleet of CNG Muscabuses. By doing so, we are radically reducing methane gas released into the air. Our water quality is excellent. Air quality issues are a state matter. Clearly, we have demonstrated a willingness to embrace the latest technology in our quest to be better and better.

After a controversial past term between the mayor and city council, what should city council members do, if anything, to win trust back with Muscatine residents? What do you see as the biggest issues, if any, that arose from the mayor removal?

After the election, this controversy should be moot. The Council is no longer bound by rules to not communicate to the public. That in itself should help tremendously. The biggest issues resulting in the matter is the gross misunderstanding of most people about the situation.

What do you view as the most important role of a Muscatine City Council member?

Elected officials should always act with the best interest of the city foremost in their mind. Never to act with narrow personal interests dominating one's behavior and decisions.

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