September 27, 2022

Meet the candidates for Osceola mayor

Four hopefuls vie for the position of Osceola mayor. Former mayor Matt Stoll resigned in June and Osceola City Council voted to hold a special election to find someone to take his place.

The special election is Tuesday, Sept. 13. A mayoral forum has been canceled due to scheduling conflicts.

Editor’s note: All candidates were given the same questions from the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Willis Hamilton

Q: Tell me about yourself - where are you from, education, employment, family, etc.

I was born and raised in Appanoose County. I graduated from Centerville High School then went to Central College in Pella and Indian Hills in Centerville where I received an Associate of Arts in Drafting. I also went to the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and became a certified peace officer working for the Appanoose County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff. I also worked at Lakeside Casino in the Surveillance Department progressing to Surveillance Manager. I am currently working at the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office as a Jailer.

Q: What made you decide to run for mayor in this election?

I feel that the position of mayor here was in the need of some stability, integrity, honesty and maturity which it has been lacking in recent years. The people of Osceola need someone who will listen to them and represent the majority even if it conflicts with my personal opinions.

Q: What are three main issues you see facing the city right now, and how do you plan to solve those problems?

Housing, water, and employment. I plan to work at bringing together all the individuals, departments, administration to address and resolve these issues.

Q: What sort of experience do you bring to the table, and what makes you the best candidate for the job?

Twenty years total experience so far as a jailer or deputy sheriff making decisions, conducting investigations, and enforcing rules, regulations, and laws. Working with people in the process of these endeavors and resolving issues. Also seven years of management experience maintaining a surveillance department and staff.

Q: If elected, how do you see Osceola at the end of your term?

I see it as a much closer community that feels like everyone’s opinion truly matters and makes a difference.

Q: What is the best thing about the city of Osceola?

It is a city on the move, hopefully growing to its full potential.

Thomas Kedley

Q: Tell me about yourself - where are you from, education, employment, family, etc.

I come from four generations of Iowa farmers. After earning my degree at the University of Northern Iowa, my wife, Becca, and I have resided in Osceola for over 10 years and have grown our family here. We are both in the educational field at Clarke Community School District and we try to immerse ourselves in the community through public service and volunteerism. Our sons, Teddy and Rocky, love taking advantage of Osceola’s parks, youth programs and trails. Osceola is our home and where our hearts are.

Q: What made you decide to run for mayor in this election?

I have always had a sincere passion for public service and my heart is in this community. I am humbled and honored to have served our community as mayor for six years. After completing a listening campaign, I decided to run for mayor again to continue to positively move Osceola forward. Osceola is a community who has always had strong traditions and roots. As an educator and public servant, I plan to respect those traditions, but change the status quo.

Q: What are three main issues you see facing the city right now, and how do you plan to solve those problems?

I believe the main issue facing the city of Osceola right now is the lack of a clear, comprehensive plan. In the six years I served as mayor we, as a community, completed the majority of our 10 year comprehensive plan. We made huge strides during this time, but there is more work to be done. If elected, I would like to bring together all entities within the community to develop a clear, common vision to move our community forward. By sharing similar goals with all entities we can continue to progress our community through working together. Some issues I would like to include in the plan would be infrastructure, water and quality of life.

Updating infrastructure is a never-ending process. My focus would include, but is not limited to, continuing to pave and maintain city roads and sidewalks, the completion of our waste water treatment plant, continue to update city infrastructure and the development of our town square, highway corridors and our industrial park. Water would include, but is not limited to, the completion of our waste water treatment plant to meet EPA standards and the creation of a lake reservoir. Quality of life for our community would include, but is not limited to, the continued growth of industry and commercial businesses, new housing, new SOS sidewalks, updating city parks and the development of our parks and recreation facilities (i.e. recreation center, paved trails, new playground equipment and growth of youth programs). Osceola grew approximately 10% in the last census and we are in need of additional housing. I want people to be able to live, work and play in Osceola. This past six months has not been easy for our community and I believe a common, comprehensive plan can bring the community together with one shared vision.

Q: What sort of experience do you bring to the table, and what makes you the best candidate for the job?

I have a degree in All Social Sciences Education with an emphasis in American history and government. I served Osceola as mayor for six years and during these six years I was deeply embedded in the community and served on multiple boards, commissions and committees at both the city and state level. I ran for the United States House of Representatives, but chose to end the campaign to run for mayor in 2019 because there is no place like home. I bring experience in managing the city’s budget, in leading numerous boards and commissions, in understanding Constitutional law, the Iowa Code and Osceola City Code of Ordinance and a true understanding of the balance of government for the people’s prosperity. I sincerely believe I am the best candidate for Mayor because I will work relentlessly for the betterment of Osceola and its citizens. I will strive for increased communication (my phone number is 563-249-1330) and will always put the quality of life for Osceola’s citizens first.

Q: If elected, how do you see Osceola at the end of your term?

As I did in the last 6 years serving as mayor, I see Osceola as a community working together, using a new comprehensive plan and vision to continue to prosper. I see our community as a place where we celebrate our differences, listen and learn from each other. I see our community collectively working to make Osceola a place we can all be proud of. I see Osceola, our community, once again united, not divided.

Q: What is the best thing about the city of Osceola?

The best thing about the city of Osceola is its potential. Osceola’s geographic location has set it up for success; it has 2 major highways, an interstate and a major railroad. Thousands of people pass through Osceola on any given day. Osceola has potential because of the people that live and work here. Osceola is diverse in multiple areas and it is celebrated. Osceola also shares its great potential through its celebrations. People travel to Osceola to celebrate with us. Our potential to be the beacon community of southern Iowa is driven by the people, what they do and how they do it in our community. I firmly believe with a strong comprehensive plan we will be able to take some of Osceola’s potential to celebrate our traditions and change the status quo to continue prosperity.

Shane Simpson

Q: Tell me about yourself - where are you from, education, employment, family, etc.

I was born in Sioux City but I was raised in Huxley, Iowa. Following high school, I joined the United States Marine Corps. After I was honorably discharged from the USMC, I married my wife Elizabeth and had 2 children. I attended Liberty University where I obtained a Master’s Degree and I have completed coursework in a doctoral program for Public Administration. I have lived and worked in Osceola for 18 years. During this entire time, I have been the lead pastor at Christ’sway Church. In addition, I worked additional jobs as the Director of the Clarke County Veterans Affairs for four years, and I am currently the Human Resource Manager for Lakeside Casino. I am the Emergency Medical Services Captain for the Osceola Fire Department, I am licensed EMT, and I am a reserve deputy for the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office. I have three beautiful grandchildren. All of my children and their spouses live and work in Osceola.

Q: What made you decide to run for mayor in this election?

I decided to run for mayor because I have a love for the community of Osceola and the desire to see the community, and the citizens of Osceola, prosper and grow. To me it isn’t about the title of Mayor. It is about being a voice for the community. Our world is so heavily divided in every area, especially politics. This makes it impossible to make decisions where everyone will agree. My goal is to listen to all sides of an issue, and rather than argue about who is individually right or wrong, I would discuss the impact of the issue at hand on the community, and then make common sense choices that are beneficial to the community as a whole. No matter one’s title or position in our community, we all must look past what benefits individual interests , and focus on what benefits the whole.

Q: What are three main issues you see facing the city right now, and how do you plan to solve those problems?

One issue I would address is the need for infrastructure improvement. This includes repairing and replacing existing sewer lines, water lines, and streets. I know that the current city council has been working on this, however there is always more that needs to be done. While we need to keep adding to existing amenities, we also need to make sure we take care of what we already have in place.

The second issue I would address is the need to beautify our square and the Hwy 69 and Hwy 34 corridor. These are the first impressions everyone coming to our community sees. Fixing these areas up will benefit the community in several ways. It will hopefully attract additional business opportunities and homebuilders to the area, and it potentially will help existing businesses grow. To do this, I would work with the Osceola Chamber Main Street, existing development efforts and the local business owners and building owners to create a systematic plan for beautification that will benefit the community.

The third issue I see the city facing is addressing the public perception of Osceola. Once the previous two issues I mentioned above are addressed, I believe that people will be able to see all of the wonderful things Osceola has to offer and all of the potential we have for the future. We have an amazing 4th of July, Tuesday Nights in the Park, a great movie theater, a wonderful trail system, and an outstanding Latino Festival. We have a wonderful foundation of businesses, both large manufacturing and retail, as well as several amazing small retail businesses. But we could have more. There is room for healthy growth. In today’s climate of division, it is easy to settle for what is good, or maybe what is better, but it is difficult to achieve what is best. It takes the tough conversations and tough choices to achieve the best future for Osceola. We, as a community, need to celebrate that we are a pretty great place. I would like to begin quarterly town halls to build ownership and consensus within the community. I envision the opportunity for the citizens and businesses to be part of the conversation in developing a plan for change.

Q: What sort of experience do you bring to the table, and what makes you the best candidate for the job?

My entire adult life I have worked in public service. I have always had a leadership role in my chosen profession. In saying that, it is not about title, it is about progress. One thing I have- learned is that people want to see the results, but are often unwilling to go through the process. If you are going to take people through the process to get to the results, you have to be a good communicator, patient, and willing to make the right decision, even if it is not popular. In saying that, I will have an open door policy to listen to the concerns of the community and carefully consider what is being said. I posses the experience of leading others through difficult processes to come to the best results possible. I am not afraid to seek counsel and research beyond what is presented. I will always fight for what is best and right for the community.

Q: If elected, how do you see Osceola at the end of your term?

I see an Osceola that has improved infrastructure with the replacement of needed water and sewer lines and repaired streets. I see Osceola with a square that has been revitalized with the storefronts filled with new businesses that have been attracted to Osceola by the efforts of the beautification of our major corridors. I see additional small and large businesses joining our community as a result of the town hall meeting efforts by the citizens to improve the public perception of Osceola.

Q: What is the best thing about the city of Osceola?

The wonderful people and the location. It has all the ingredients for success. This is both for those living here and for those working here.

Ann Ware

Q: Tell me about yourself - where are you from, education, employment, family, etc.

I was born and raised in Osceola. I went to school here. I work at Osceola Foods. I have two adult children, neither live here.

Q: What made you decide to run for mayor in this election?

Because I hoped I could make a difference.

Q: What are three main issues you see facing the city right now, and how do you plan to solve those problems?

Safety. Integrity. Business.

Q: What sort of experience do you bring to the table, and what makes you the best candidate for the job?

No experience; just want the best for my town.

Q: If elected, how do you see Osceola at the end of your term?

I have no idea.

Q: What is the best thing about the city of Osceola?

The people.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.