Linda Conaway – In their own words …
Years in Webster City: 51
Occupation: Sales/Marketing for Pro Farmer
Previous offices: Hotel/Motel Tax Board; City Council 2010 to present
Why are you running for City Council?
I chose to run for re-election because I believe my experience over the past 4 years has given me good knowledge and insight that comes with experience; I believe we have our community headed in a very positive direction, and I would like to continue that effort for another term. I still believe, as I did four years ago, that it’s imperative that as a community, we change with the times and stay ahead of the curve to keep us in the running for new business and industrial opportunities. We want to be viewed as a progressive and welcoming community. Webster City offers top notch educational facilities and recreational opportunities two of the three things young families look for when considering relocation. I want Webster City to be the kind of place people want to come home to. Families are the backbone of building a strong and vibrant community.
What qualifications do you bring to the job?
In addition to the four years of experience I have from my present term on the Webster City City Council, I also have a very keen ability to listen with an open mind. I am a team-player, respectful of other people’s opinions and ideas, even when they differ from my own. I have the proven ability to debate an issue without becoming argumentative or taking “shots” at others, and do my best to get the all facts before taking a stand. My professional background includes over 30 years in sales and marketing, and I am a graduate of the Dale Carnegie Management and Human Relations course. I take pride in maintaining a “we-can-do-it” approach that effectively and enthusiastically builds commitment and teamwork. I lead by example and take pride in the work I do as a representative of the community. Which takes an abundance of thought, consideration, dedication and tenacity.
What is Webster City’s greatest asset?
I’d start with the people who call Webster City home. In the past two years this community has really come together and shown a renewed interest in taking pride in our town. It looks better than ever, people are friendlier, kinder and more helpful. Volunteerism is at an all time high and growing. Yes, we have some of the same issues as other communities have today, but you wouldn’t know it when you attend a community event or social activity here. Our recreational assets, Fuller Hall, Briggs Woods, the trails, the Boone River and our parks. Direct access to two major highways; We have local companies/employers who are quietly expanding, adding jobs and providing even better opportunities for our area. At the end of the day, our greatest asset is still the people who live, work and play here.
What are the top 3 challenges facing Webster City?
1. The loss of revenues the City faces because of Electrolux’s closing; 2. Being able to maintain the quality of services we are accustomed to with less revenue; 3. Economic development – Bringing more business and industry to our community.
How would you address these challenges?
By continuing to work with our City manager, who has done his very best to keep our budget in line so no single group has to take a huge hit on services. He has managed the budget in such a manner that the burden of budget cuts has been shared equitably, not just by a few. We have to land some of the jobs we have been in the running for, but haven’t landed. Some you may have heard about, some you don’t because of confidentiality agreements, we aren’t allowed to know or say who they are. That’s just the way it works. If word gets out that we told what we’re competing for, then we’re crossed out of the picture for future opportunities. I know it’s frustrating, but when it’s their ball, and you want to get in the game, you have to play by their rules.
What should the city’s role be in economic development?
Our role should be a partner, a back up or a leader, depending on the circumstance. We need jobs, we also need homes for people to live if their company locates here. We need to maintain our resources in such a manner that if a company needs high speed cable access to locate here, we have it. Water & Sewer services, land, on which they can build? We have it. It all takes some investment on the part of the City, and whether you personally like him or not, our City Manager has done an exceptional job of getting us into position so that one day, it will be Webster City that comes out on top. No one entity can do it themselves, we all have to work together and show a united, welcoming effort to get these places to choose Webster City over Altoona, Indianola, etc..
What would you do to keep utility rates in line?
As much as I can. I can’t stop inflation, or control the costs that we incur any more than one can control the cost of bread, milk or gasoline. Webster City’s kilowatt hour rates are dead center when compared with the rest of the state. We are looking at “smart meters” which, when used with your computer or smart phones, can track “peak demand” times. I have talked with many people who had an incredibly high electric bill in late September. What we forget, is that we are billed for electricity, water, sewer after we use it. Remember the two weeks of unbearable heat late August and early September? Did you turn off your air conditioner or fans? I sure didn’t, and received the same financial hit as the rest of the community. The secret to keeping our utility rates in check is keeping an eye on peak demands hours.
If elected, what is the first thing you would like to get done? And how you would you accomplish this?
Brainstorm with the rest of council regarding the citizen’s top priorities they’d like to see addressed. Possibly “smart meters” and other tools that may help save on utility costs and educate the public on how they can escape using during “peak demand” times. We must continue our economic development efforts to bring new business and help existing business expand here. Fill main street with unique stores and services that would keep people shopping locally.
As a member of City Council, I am part of a team. I would work with the other members of Council to address the concerns of the citizens, whether they come through me or another Councilmember. Our job is to exhaust all avenues and do everything we can to improve our community situation. There is no I in teamwork, it needs to be a combined effort on every council member’s part to be successful in our endeavors.
How important is collaboration and compromise for a City Council member?
It is extremely important. It hasn’t been that long ago that we had a very disjointed council due to lack of collaboration and compromise. If nobody is willing to look at another person’s point of view, all you have is a complete impasse and absolutely nothing gets accomplished. It results in a complete deadlock, just like we’re seeing in Washington, D.C. right now. It’s one thing to have and share an opposing opinion, however, you have to know when, for the good of the cause and the community, you have to move on. Nobody is right all the time. People find what they are looking for. If you approach a situation to find fault, you’ll find it. If you’re looking for solutions, you’ll find them. It is important that we all find ways to work together, everyday, with kindness and compassion for everyone. Nothing good comes from snide and snarky.
Give us your visions for the future of Webster City.
I see us growing in many ways. I believe we have an incredible opportunity to get a piece of the pie that is being shared by communities like Fort Dodge and Clarion who are experiencing tremendous industrial growth, but may not be in a position to support all the “wants” of the folks that are coming to work there. We are a 23 mile commute in any direction, and for that commute these folks can live in a city with excellent schools, a wide variety of recreational opportunities, a very low crime rate, top-notch roads and dependable infrastructure. It’s a community where people are glad about their choice to be here. Our city is poised and ready for the next step, the next job-creating opportunity that comes along will land here, and as a friend of mine once related “a high tide floats all boats” and everybody wins.