Commissioner bows out after two terms

Dave RosePhoto courtesy of the Iowa Dept. of Transportation

CLINTON -- A Clinton man's time as an Iowa Department of Transportation commissioner will soon come to an end, and now he's looking back on his service along with what's next.

David Rose has served as a commissioner since 2011, and his second term is set to expire on June 30. During his time in the position, Rose has been an advocate for Clinton County transportation initiatives, most notably the potential complete four-laning of U.S. 30 in Clinton County.

Rose first became interested in the efforts after his retirement, when he began attending DOT meetings. Rose said he took issue with the way the commissioner at the time was going about certain things, so he decided to make his own voice heard.

"I was so disgusted," Rose recalled feeling after one meeting in particular. "I said, 'You're sitting on the inside, you know what the needs are. How come you aren't going out and getting things done and talking to the legislators?' I was very, very upset."

What followed was a meeting with several local and state legislators, a meeting in which the state fuel tax was birthed. The tax has gone on to provide considerable funding for department projects. Rose's work with that initiative, along with several others, earned him the attention of the DOT Commission, soon leading to his first appointment as a commissioner.

Outside of physical work noticeable to the eye, Rose said he's worked hard behind the scenes to improve how the Commission works. Communication is key to the success of both local and statewide initiatives, he said.

"One thing that I pushed for was that, when we get a new chairman, we sit down with them and ask them exactly what their plans and ideas are -- five of them.," Rose said. "And the second question is, 'How are you going to accomplish them?' That way, if you have somebody just throwing out screwball ideas with no real substance, the other commissioners can shut them down right there."

The politics of the department, mostly regarding project location, have been a thorn in Rose's side, he said. The political landscape has caused strain when it comes to accomplishing rural projects instead of projects in cities such as Des Moines, Cedar Rapids or Sioux City.

But at the end of the day, that wasn't Rose's style. He said he felt he did a good job of keeping Clinton County at the forefront of his mind while maintaining impartiality.

Many things stuck out in Rose's mind as he reminisced on his career last week, and he said he's leaving office proud of what he accomplished.

"At the DOT, you're the big thinkers of Iowa and you should be able to make big decisions. I think I did that," Rose said. "It's a good organization, and it's well-run. Did we make mistakes? Yes. But when you're the big thinkers, you have to be willing to take some risks in order to get things done."