The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


October 29, 2013

City Council Profiles

Candidates Maggie Klaes (Ward 1), Julie Allesee (Ward 1), Lynn McGraw (Ward 2), Ed O'Neill (Ward 3) and Bev Hermann (Ward 3) each explain what makes him or her the best choice for Clinton City Council.

Maggie Klaes — Council Ward 1

List your education, experience and background:

I graduated Camanche High School, attending nursing program at Clinton Community College, St. Luke’s School of Nursing (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Graduated with Graduate Nurse Degree.

I have a B.S.N. from Coe College. I worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids in the pediatric intensive care unit, worked at Jane Lamb Hospital in Clinton as an E.R. nurse and as evening charge nurse.  I was selected as head nurse for the pediatric unit at Jane Lamb, continued as head nurse at Samaritan Hospital. I worked as clinic instructor in nursing program at Clinton Community College and as a school nurse in the Clinton Community School District. The last four years, I have served on the council representing the people of Ward 1.

1. What has been your experience working with others to grow an institution, business or group?

As a teller with Kopp’s grocery store allowed me to work with people of all ages. As a junior in college I was able to work as a nurse with a student nurse with experience (on) floor work.

2. Discuss how your experience has helped shape your communication abilities. 

I learned one of the most important communications skills is listening well. As the First Ward council member I have used this skill to listen to my constituents.

3. What challenges do you anticipate you will face as a Clinton City Council member?

Having worked as the First Ward council member I believe most difficulties have been met. I realize that you cannot tell the future, but I believe the best is yet to come.

4. What solutions do you see for those challenges?

As I mentioned in running for the first ward in 2009, not only having my father Dexter Jensen serving on the Camanche City Council when I was a senior in high school, that I was able to see him take action calmly, with much concern for the public and take action, but brother-in-law Charles Klaes with the city of Clinton council taught me good management and knowing the in-depth subjects of resolutions and motions and look up any additional information that is needed.

5. How do you combat rising rates while also completing infrastructure projects in the city of Clinton?

Work closely with the Capital Improvements Program committee.

6. How would you proceed in making Clinton more attractive to new residents and businesses while maintaining services?

Continue to work at maintaining our own infrastructure and maintain fire department and increase police department and public works departments to appropriate numbers of employees.

Julie Allessee — Ward 1

List your education, experience and background:

Education includes Mt. St. Clare; American Management Association Courses in Customer Service Training and Management Philosophies; American Festivals and Events Certified Special Event Planner.

Experience includes marketing service administrator at A.C. Nielsen Companies, customer service department management at Dun & Bradstreet, business owner at Fun ‘n Games and J.C. Penney catalog merchant, Director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau, President of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and two-year City Council Member in Ward 2.
Community Involvement includes Clinton Women’s Club Curtis Mansion Foundation Board of Directors; Mercy Hospital Foundation Board of Directors; Clinton Community College Foundation Board of Directors; Wa-Tan-Ye –Member; past chair of Downtown Business and Professional Association; past Vice-Chair of Main Street Clinton; original board member of Symphony of Lights and AMVETS Auxiliary Member.

Statewide involvement: past President: Eastern Iowa Tourism Association, past President: Travel Federation of Iowa and Tourism Leader of Iowa, Travel Federation of Iowa.

1. What has been your experience working with others to grow an institution, business or group?

While employed by the A.C. Nielsen Co. and Dun and Bradstreet, I was in charge of customer service for the Nielsen Inquiry Service and at Neodata for Dun and Bradstreet. We teamed to create market-sensitive reader response tracking service to expand advertising revenue. I also presented services, prepared proposals, negotiated contracts, supervised conversions, created advertising, wrote brochures and initiated direct mail campaigns with a 30 percent response; above the normal response rate of 6 to 8 percent. My customer service representatives were responsible for over 700 publisher customers answering questions regarding advertising and marketing distribution. At the time that I was employed by Nielsen Inquiry Service, it was the largest reader service response company in the country providing information to both trade and consumer publications.

2. Discuss how your experience has helped shape your communication abilities.

During my tenure as Director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau, I spoke to many groups and organizations both locally and at state meetings regarding the tourism opportunities in the Clinton area. I was also the President of Eastern Iowa Tourism and the Travel Federation of Iowa. In each case, I represented, and acted as spokesperson, to many of the Legislative bodies in Des Moines and Washington, D.C. discussing the economic impact of tourism as an industry in Iowa and the nation. I also presented many times on the projects and dollars we were hoping to secure to grow opportunities to further impact our tourism tax base.

As President of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, I represented over 600 members discussing items of importance regarding growth of the economy and assisting in locating and establishing programs that would aid in our member’s long-term growth and development. Trips to Washington, D.C., through collaborative efforts with Clinton Regional Development Corp. and the cities of Clinton, Camanche and Fulton have brought direct economic stimulus projects to our area in excess of $75,000,000 during my years at the Clinton Chamber.

3. What challenges do you anticipate you will face as a Clinton City Council member?

The biggest issue that I feel we have at this time is controlling spending. We are in a very tight monetary situation with declining revenues and continued infrastructure needs. Many of our citizens are on fixed incomes and have not received substantial cost of living adjustments in several years. We also suffer from a large base of low to mid-range incomes. We need growth in our industrial base and more well-paying jobs that will bring people to our area. Our population has dropped since the 1970s but our area of need and coverage has grown.

4. What solutions do you see for those challenges?

I have been fortunate to work with individuals in this area that share a vision of growth for our city and our citizens. These individuals have come together to develop such projects as the Business Park that has seen the development of four new companies that have invested in projects in Clinton. The new railport is also the result of much work by the Clinton Regional Development Corporation and their Board of Directors. We are in a very competitive market. Finding the right mix of incentives and opportunities for new companies is the key to continued growth for each of these entities. Our surrounding cities and partners, the County Board of Supervisors and the State of Iowa have worked diligently over the past several years to put together programs to help grow individual cities and the much needed increase in the tax base. Those collaborations need to continue.

5. How do you combat rising rates while also completing infrastructure projects in the City of Clinton?

Some of the increases in rates are out of our control. We do not own our own water company. We are subject to a federal mandate that has been imposed on us and that will cause our budget to be under stress for many years to come. I feel that the Capital Improvement Plan that is being put in place will prioritize our needs and layout the spending allocations that will make these needs feasible in a controlled atmosphere. Several of the plans being considered will lead to long term income for the city. We have committed to a strategic plan for repairing our streets and, have at this time, been able to adhere to that plan. Controlling our budgetary line items and maintaining strict budget controls should make us better prepared to combat rising rates. We must continue to build our reserves.

6. How would you proceed in making Clinton more attractive to new residents and businesses while maintaining services?

Working with our local organizations, the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, Clinton Regional Development Corporation, Clinton Community College and Ashford University gives us opportunities to create programs that fit the needs of new businesses to our area. Continued recruitment to the area by Clinton Regional Development will assist in bringing attention to the many opportunities and services already in this area. Our proximity to rail, river and Highway 30 makes us unique and attractive to a new customer base.

We have secured millions of dollars to make Clinton an attractive place to live, work and play. Our riverfront is one of the most beautiful in the country. The approach to Clinton via Liberty Square has dramatically changed the way our community is viewed.

We have to work with our citizens to create a positive image of life in the Clinton area. The more upbeat we are about our “home” town, the easier it will be to convince new residents that they have made the right choice in coming to our community. As our tax base grows, so will our ability to maintain and grow our services.

Lynn McGraw — Ward 2

Education, background and experience:

Life-long resident of Clinton,  Graduated from Clinton High School, Clinton Community College, and Mount St. Clare College, with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Accounting and minor in Business. My entire working career has been in accounting. While working at Clifton Gunderson and in now my personal business, I have worked with many different businesses. For nine yearS, I was the financial analyst at the hospital in Clinton. Most of my work there involved the budget and completing the monthly financial statements. After graduating from MSC I passed my CPA. Since 1997 I have been an enrolled agent with the IRS, which is a license to practice before the IRS in taxation. I have volunteered on many different boards. I am currently treasurer of the Paul B. Sharar foundation at Clinton Community College. I am currently serving on the Library Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustments. I am serving also on the Self Supporting Municipal Improvement District in downtown Clinton and am the treasurer of that board. I am married to Jim McGraw and he and I own two businesses in downtown Clinton. We have five children and seven grandchildren.

1. What has been your experience working with others to grow an institution, business or group?

I believe my experience as a volunteer on different boards that I serve on and also building my own accounting firm and assisting my husband with his business which has been in downtown Clinton since 1974.

2. Discuss how your experience has helped shape your communication abilities.

Been a speaker with many of my volunteer boards. Have presented a variety of programs at Clinton Community College in the Continuing Education program. Been a presenter at Clinton High School for 18 years for a scholarship for a graduating senior.

3. What challenges do you anticipate you will face as a Clinton City Council member?

I believe what the citizens are most concerned about is the rising property taxes and fees for services. I believe this is going to be a challenge to keep them from continuing to rise or at least holding them where they are currently.

4. What solutions do you see for those challenges?

Work to bring more industry and businesses to Clinton.

5. How do you combat rising rates while also completing infrastructure projects in the city of Clinton?

We need more industry and businesses in Clinton for jobs and the property tax base. Also, more businesses generate more sales taxes, which a portion comes back to the city. The larger our property tax base is, the more revenue we will have for infrastructure projects

6. How would you proceed in making Clinton more attractive to new residents and businesses while maintaining services?

Get the word out what Clinton has to offer. We have many amenities such as the symphony, the Ballet Company, the Arboretum, great parks, professional baseball club, the Showboat with professional actors and actresses. Many cities our size do not have all of these. Our school buildings are state of the art. Our new pool at Clinton High School is best in the state. We also have the Mississippi. We need to market our city and alleviate the negativity.

Ed O'Neill — Ward 3

List your education, background and experience:

I graduated from Immaculate Conception High School, Elmhurst, Ill., in 1967. I earned an associate degree from Robert Morris College in Carthage, Ill., in 1969. I served four years in the U.S. Navy from 1970 to 1974. I received a Bachelor's Degree from Western Illinois University in 1976, majoring in law enforcement administration and finance.

In 1988 we moved to Clinton and I was employed by McEleney as a sales person and later as the Toyota Sales Manager. In 1994 I took a position with Automotive Resources, Springfield, Mo., as a consultant to automobile dealerships throughout the Midwest. In 1999 I received my insurance license and was an agent for Northwestern Mutual Insurance, and also held a position as a Security Supervisor on the MBII.  I served on the City Council for 2 1/2 years, before taking a position as the infrastructure specialist at the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce and then at the Clinton Regional Development Corporation. Presently I have my real estate license and I am a Realtor with Ruhl & Ruhl.

1. What has been your experience working with others to grow an institution, business or group?

The most recent experience was working with the CEO and staff at Clinton Regional Development. As part of a small group of four persons, we managed and developed several projects in the region; the most notable and challenging was the grant writing and development of the Lincolnway Railport that is now developed at the west edge of Clinton.

Earlier in my life I was the member of the Board of Directors for a small theater group, the Hancock County Theater. The group started out for many years putting on one summer stock play in Hancock County,Ill. However, as interest grew, the board moved the group to produce four shows a year on the campus of Robert Morris College, later forming its own production company, which I purchased, along with a building, and evolved into Hancock Dinner Theater for the Performing Arts.  We expanded to six productions a year with a dinner theater enterprise accommodation.

2. Discuss how your experience has helped to shape your communication abilities.

Early on as a police officer I had to become proficient in the art of listening, not only to become good at gathering facts, but also to understand questions that were asked while giving testimony. Later in my career I needed to communicate in the written form as well as the spoken. With the theater business I was constantly writing grants, as I also had to do with my job as the infrastructure specialist with CRDC. At this point in my life I am still avid about gathering facts, and prefer to relate them verbally in direct conversations with proponents or opponents equally.

3. What Challenges do you anticipate you will face as a Clinton City Council member?

First of all the challenges are not anticipated; they are real and they are present right now.  
a) Debt  reduction: presently the city has $117 million dollars in debt
b) Increased tax base; more entities to share cost of running the city and reduce the tax burden
c) Transparency in government operations. Inform the public where we are going and how we are getting there
d) Accountability
e) Regaining the trust and confidence of the citizens.

4. What solutions do you see for those challenges?

a)   Quit spending money. Reduce the limit on our GO bond capacity to 65 percent, leaving the City a 35 percent cushion in case of an emergency or natural disaster. Just as we complain about the federal government raising the debt ceiling, we need to stop raising ours.
b)   We need incentives for the expansion of our small to medium size businesses, and existing homes.
c)    I intend to hold a monthly meeting in the Third Ward every month, on the Saturday between the first council meeting of the month and the second.
d)  The seven members of the City Council hold all the power that controls and runs the city. They are the voting body that makes all the decisions; however, with that power there is also the responsibility to be accountable to the citizens for all the results; regardless if they are good or bad.
e) Do all of the above.

5.  How do you combat rising rates while also completing infrastructure projects in the City of Clinton?

Prioritize projects and slow things down. The city seems to be operating like a runaway train with no brakes and very little track left to run on. I feel with a new council we can continue some sustainable growth along with reduced and controlled spending.

6. How do you proceed in making Clinton more attractive to new residents and businesses while maintaining services?

First of all we need to contain and solve the problems that we have that make Clinton unattractive to new business and residents. It is going to take a group effort by the council to turn this around.
(a) Get financial statements in the hands of the council members, good reports, not "fluff and stuff."
(b) Get together as a group and develop a serious, comprehensive ”stick-to-it” five-year plan that reduces spending on capital improvements by 25 to 30 percent, have each department cut 5 to 6 percent from last year’s budget, eliminate any tax increases, and re-negotiate with the state any mandated payment plans that will increase any sewer billings for the next three years.
(c) Concentrate on working with the city employees to help us and city management to put this city back together. It is broke and acknowledging the problem is the first step toward the solution.
(d) These problems are not going to get resolved overnight, they have gone unattended over the last eight to 10 years, so a “quick fix’ is not going to happen.

Bev Hermann — Ward 3

List your education, experience and background:

I graduated from Clinton Community High School in Clinton, Ill. and went immediately to work for State Farm Insurance company in Bloomington. We moved here in 1964 and I was secretary to the center director at Clinton Job Corps from the time it opened to the time it closed. Later I worked at Chemplex (now Lyondell), the Nielsen Company and Chicago Northwestern. Then I was with Illinois Education Association-NEA in Moline for 23 years as field secretary and administrative assistant.

Through all those years, I took many classes both through Clinton Community College and various employers, especially IEA, always business, communications, or psychology.Currently I work part time at Swiss Colony.

I was First Ward Council Representative 2001-2005, and Third Ward 2010-2013. Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of community organizations, but currently just Citizen Police Academy Alumni, Community Emergency Response Team, Vision 8, and Unity of Clinton.

1. What has been your experience working with others to grow an institution, business or group?

I have always worked well with others. I’ve had a lot of experience and training on communication and relationships including human dynamics, Covey’s “7 Habits,” “How to Get Along with Difficult People,” and more. In my 23 years with Illinois Education Association, I worked with office staff and leadership and members of two regions totaling around 4,700 school employees to keep people informed of events and issues important to their work and local organizations.

2. Discuss how your experience has helped shape your communication abilities.

I might not be the loudest or most-spoken person in a group, but I’ve learned to listen and gather information so when I do say something, I generally know the facts behind the situation. My experience has been that honest, open discussion and reaching consensus is always the best way to plan or to resolve an issue.

3. What challenges do you anticipate you will face as a Clinton City Council member?

The major issue will still be budgeting with limited resources.

4. What solutions do you see for those challenges?

We will have to be frugal and very careful. Our financial house is now in order, so we do know what we have to work with now, and what we don’t have.

5. How do you combat rising rates while also completing infrastructure projects in the city of Clinton?

We will work on this with staff, as a group. No one person has all the answers to every situation that comes along.

6. How would you proceed in making Clinton more attractive to new residents and businesses while maintaining services?  
We need to do a better job of promoting the city, the many excellent attributes we offer. We have many good employers and businesses, a huge variety of things to do year-round and even more in the summer: lots of kids sports and activities, showboat theater, minor league baseball, many special events of a day or so. Our schools are excellent, both facilities and staff. We have two brand-new industries coming into the railpark soon, and Data Dimensions is doubling its size in a new building. The Wilson Building soon will be in progress. The Lyons business district will soon start its new streetscape project. We already have new people at both ends of the age spectrum locating here. The younger people are attracted by the fact that Clinton is family friendly. A number of the older generation have moved to Clinton to live at the new Village Cooperative. I expect this growth and change to continue.

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