Unlike many other mayors, Chris Erickson, the 35-year-old mayor of McCallsburg, didn’t run for office. No campaign flyers or knocking on doors. Nope. Erickson was written in by a group of people in town who asked him if he’d do it if they wrote him in. Turns out, he was willing.
Erickson was already a council member. He’d served one full four-year term and was in the middle of his second term. With his move to mayor, his council seat now sits vacant. He thinks the council will try to fill it by appointment, and that may not be easy.
“Being in a small town (McCallsburg is around 330 in population), it’s hard to get people that want to be on the council,” Erickson said.
The present council members include Scott Anderson, the senior member of the group; LeAnn Hazen; Sharon Rainey and newcomer Gayle Springer.
The new mayor is a lifelong resident of McCallsburg. “Born and raised, here,” he affirms. “McCallsburg is a good family town. A lot of people on the council have family here.”
Erickson, a 2000 graduate of Colo-NESCO High School, said he doesn’t like busy towns. “You go to Ames and all you do is sit at stoplights,” he said. He prefers the slower, laid-back pace of a place like McCallsburg.
His parents, Tim and Pat, live in town. One brother lives in town. One brother lives north of town. And the other brother lives in Boone County, not far away. Erickson’s 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, is also a member of the community when she’s at her dad’s house.
Erickson was a member of the cross country and track teams while he was in high school. And he also worked a job during those years. “I worked at Wright’s Hardware in Roland,” he said, and adds that it was a great job for a high school kid. “I liked the easy-going people there.”
After high school, he went directly to a job at 3M in Ames and spent eight years on the production line. From there, he worked for Chitty Garbage, which he said is probably the most fun job he ever had, because he worked with someone who was great to work with. He also enjoyed the shifts. “You’d go in at 5 a.m. and be out by noon,” he said. He did that for a year or two.
Now, Erickson works for Story County, running a maintainer (road grader) in the Colo area. Because he’s in Colo most every day, he’s also a member of the Colo Volunteer Fire Department.
When it comes to the positives about McCallsburg, Erickson said the fact that the town got its water lines up to code and looped in recent years is a plus, along with the fact that they have a newer lagoon. The biggest project coming up for the town is a new water line on main street, which Erickson said will help a lot with fire protection with better water flow.
Erickson also puts Bethany Lutheran Church high up on the list of great things about McCallsburg. The fact that the church has taken over the day care from the school and run it successfully, “that’s big,” he said.
Other great groups in town would include the fire department, under the leadership of Chief Brandon Hendricks, and the Lions Club, which holds some nice community events.
The biggest challenge for the community, Erickson said, is getting more people to move to the town, especially younger families, which would help the school district, too. “It would be nice to get all the houses filled and get people to build more up here,” he said. More residents would also mean more people who might be willing to help the town in leadership positions, and good leadership is needed, Erickson agreed. Families coming in would help keep the town together and provide more people to help continue to make it a nice community.
Erickson and members of the council get good help from City Clerk Jennifer Heithoff, who does a lot, Erickson said, with the books, ordinances and dealing with the public. Everything else the town needs is contracted out; there are no other city employees.
When he’s not working his job or doing things as mayor, Erickson said his hobbies include four-wheeling and snowmobiling. He also enjoys the family vacation every year at Leech Lake, north of the Twin Cities. Seventeen Ericksons are on the roster for that trip, which is something they all look forward to.
When he considers being the mayor of McCallsburg and what that means, Erickson said he knows that the lengthy tenure of Wally Loney in that role is a hard act to follow; and he’s the second now to try. “Wally did a lot for the town, and was retired and such (giving him more time). Now, all the council and myself all have jobs, so it’s harder to get to things,” he said. But he vows he’s going to give it his best.
As mayor, he said, “I’m willing to help the town and do whatever I can to keep it going. And it’s not just me as mayor, it’s the council and all the other volunteers that can help keep the town going and keep our costs down. We (the town) get a lot of help with things.” And people’s willingness to help, “that’s another nice thing about living in a small town,” he said.