Mount Vernon Mayoral Candidate: Scott Peterson
October 28, 2013
• Age: 60
• Education/military service: Mount Vernon High School graduate, 1971; B.S., U.S. Naval Academy (Political Science), 1975; M.A. (History) and J.D., University of Iowa, 1984.
• Occupation: Currently City Attorney, North Liberty; 16 years in private law practice; 9 years Assistant Linn County Attorney; 10 years active duty in the Navy; and 16 years in the Iowa Army National Guard, retired as Lieutenant Colonel.
• Family: Wife, Susan Alexander; son Evan (33), daughter-in-law Jennifer, and granddaughter Adeline; and son Tobyn (31).
• Community involvement/elected service: Parks and Recreation Board - early 1990s; coach, organizer and head of youth basketball program during 1990s; City Attorney 1997-2007; City Council 2008-2011; Mayor 2012- present.
Why are you running for Mount Vernon mayor?
I want to see the city continue to move forward. With a clear vision and long-term planning, I believe we have begun to make some real progress, but there is more work to be done. I offer the leadership, energy, and experience that I believe is necessary to be a successful mayor.
What is the role of mayor?
First and foremost, the mayor must be a good listener and a good leader. Additionally, the mayor is the chief executive officer of the city, the direct supervisor of the city administrator and police chief, and the primary link between the city council and city staff.
What experiences/background would make you a good mayor?
My previous service as mayor and council member in Mount Vernon; experience as city attorney in four different communities; knowledge of municipal matters; significant leadership training and experience in the community, the private sector, and the military.
You've served or are serving in city government. What three accomplishments are you most proud of during your time of service?
Over the past 21 months, the council has spent a considerable amount of time and energy in looking at the longer term and the bigger picture, including our work on strategic and capital improvements plans. I also believe the council has been particularly prudent in executing its responsibilities to oversee the financial affairs of the city, with the assistance and guidance of our city administrator.
And keeping in mind that the discussions about the corridor roundabout project began because of safety concerns, particularly at 10th Avenue, I continue to believe that this project will prove to be a good investment in the basic infrastructure along Highway 30 decades into the future and am proud that it is nearing its completion.
What are the top three strengths of the City of Mount Vernon, and how should the city capitalize on those strengths?
The history and uniqueness of our town is important to our community and those who visit us. We are very fortunate to have Cornell College call Mount Vernon home, and we have an exceptional community school district. And while we enjoy the benefits and advantages of living in a small community, we are close to Cedar Rapids and Iowa City for both work and play. We should build on these traits to attract new residents and businesses, and keep them in mind as we plan for our future.
What are the top three biggest challenges facing the City of Mount Vernon and how should they be addressed?
First, the city will face future challenges in funding different aspects of city government because of 2013 changes to state law and specifically new limitations on revenues.
Second, citizens have told me that they are interested in expanding recreational and cultural opportunities, but we have to balance those with the basic needs of the city.
Third, I would like us to continue to try to improve communications between the city officials and the citizens to make sure that residents' concerns are heard and responded to.
What should the top three budget priorities be for the City of Mount Vernon?
Continuing to build and maintain the basic infrastructure of the city; continuing to expand the commercial property base for the city in a manner that is acceptable to the community and consistent with sound development principles and practices; and having more adequate, affordable and safe housing in our community, in addition to the established historic residential properties and parts of the town.
What's your position on the proposed Mount Vernon community/wellness center?
First, we will not have a community center unless the citizens pass a bond referendum. I am a longtime advocate of having our own community center, and I am comfortable with where the process is right now. There is a sound and responsible plan in place. I look forward to working with the council, the community center committee, Cornell, the school district, and the community as that process moves forward.
What should be done, if anything, to resolve sharing issues between the Mount Vernon and Lisbon police departments?
Keep the door open to Lisbon for future talks, which would hopefully result in an agreement that would benefit both communities.
If elected, what actions, if any, should the city council/mayor take immediately?
Review and update strategic plan; review and update capital improvements plan; prepare for budget sessions that begin in January; and have multiple public forums before the end of the year about the next two years and beyond.
Are you supporting any of the candidates for city council? Who?
I am endorsing Marty Christensen. That said, I look forward to working with the city council elected by Mount Vernon residents.
Why should citizens vote for you?
As I mentioned above, I think being a good listener and a good leader are two of the most important roles of the mayor. I have shown my willingness to listen, discuss and debate city issues and residents' concerns through forums and at city council meetings. And I have demonstrated leadership by focusing on the long-term outlook and being willing to make hard decisions when in it is in the long-term interest of the city. Whether it was in the military, in government or as an elected official in Mount Vernon, I have always taken my commitment to serving community seriously, and I hope I can continue to serve this community as mayor.