Editor’s Note: Sheldahl mayoral candidate Russell Obernolte and Sheldahl City Council candidates Don Max and Richard Webster were all sent questionnaires. None submitted their responses by the specified deadline.


Name: Michael Bakken

Age: 36

Number of years you have lived in the community: Born in Polk City and lived here a majority of my life (approximately 30 years)

Occupation: Account Manager for PepsiCo.

Family Members: Wife: Michelle; children: Evan, Logan and Lucas

What goals would you have as a council member?

Polk City is a community that is growing at tremendous rate. Growth should be encouraged, but only as it fits within our current community. Maintaining Polk City’s character and small-town feel are important to my family and me. A goal of mine would be to support both commercial and residential projects if they fit within the forementioned ideals.

Polk City is a community full of citizens that take pride in being involved. Volunteers can be found helping at the elementary, coaching at the sports complex and or being members of any number of civic groups. From the Four Seasons Festival to the Square Lighting celebration, people love to support the local businesses and each other. That is one of the reasons I love being a part of this community. I would encourage the continued support and any efforts to expand community activities by the city.

What specific issues need to be addressed in your community?

Polk City is a community full of families with young children and those families use parks, pools, sport facilities and other recreational opportunities. As our community continues to grow, our current municipal and recreational facilities become more and more congested. The need to expand and/or improve these areas will become a reality. I believe the improvements to streets and sidewalks within our entire community are necessary for both functionality and safety. I would support fiscally responsible decisions that would improve quality of life projects throughout our community.

Name: Dan Lane

Age: 55 years

Number of years you have lived in community: 23+ years

Occupation: Retired from the Department of Natural Resources after 20+ years

Family members: Wife Patsy and two grown children

What things have you been involved in within your community?

Three-term (12 years) member of Polk City City Council; social member of American Legion Post 232

What goals would you have as a council member?

1. Quality of life. Provide additional recreational opportunities such as bike trails and multi-purpose fields for football and soccer, etc. Expand the summer recreation program to include adults and the possibility of a full-time Parks and Rec director. Finish the Polk City Trail Connector, which will connect the Neil Smith Trail to the High Trestle Trail through Polk City, and winding through as many of the City’s parks as possible. I will work towards this by taking the lead on fundraising and grant-writing to secure financing without raising taxes or requesting citizen-approved bond issues.

2. Property taxes. Polk City’s property tax rate is the second lowest in Polk County. This rate will be maintained by keeping a close eye on spending to ensure that the city continues to "live within its means." This rate will also be maintained by ensuring proposed ordinances and zoning requests don’t have a negative impact on growth. This doesn’t mean that the council needs to accept everything developers throw its way; but rather, Polk City’s historical and current trend of quality, controlled growth can be maintained by continuing the city’s policy of high quality standards combined with streamlined procedures.

What specific issues need to be addressed in your community?

1. Increase commercial tax base/spur economic development. Continue as the city’s liaison to the Polk City Development Corporation (PCDC) and working with PCDC to attract new businesses to expand the city’s commercial tax base. The city and PCDC have a successful track record of recruiting new businesses, such as the recent additions of Fareway and Boulders Inn, as well as many other, less noticeable entities. Complete the Polk City Trail Connector to bring thousands of bicyclists to current Polk City businesses, as well as fostering new start-ups along the trail.

2. Fire Department: Currently, the staff is a combination of volunteer, part-time and paid on-call firefighters and rescue specialists. While the quality of the department’s staff is second to none, this is where I see the biggest changes in the near- and long-term future. I foresee the need to slowly, but surely, move more toward a part-time/full-time paid staff with fewer volunteers. Most likely, the first full-time staff member will be the fire chief.

Name: Rob Mordini

Age: 41

Number of years you have lived in community: 11 yrs

Occupation: Realtor and state trooper

Family members: Two sons, Michael and Andrew

What things have you been involved in within your community?

Member and past president of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church, flag football coach, city council member past eight years, including many committees and boards

What goals would you have as a council member?

Polk City is experiencing rapid growth. With that growth comes many challenges. My goals would include keeping the city tax rate at the same level without sacrificing services, and looking for ways Polk City can be more efficient in an effort to retain a sound financial future.

What specific issues need to be addressed in your community?

As we expand, we must not forget the infrastructure in the existing portions of our community. We must monitor conditions and plan for projects so that there are not any unnecessary surprises. We should also consider the additional numbers of youth moving to our city and begin looking for ways to serve their recreational needs.


Name: Frank L. Hampton (mayor)

Age: 70

Number of years in community: 15

Occupation: Retired from Bridgestone/Firestone, currently the postmaster, (OIC), for the U.S. Post Office in Sheldahl

Family members: Wife, Carol; 6 children; 16 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren, with another due in December.

Clubs, activities, special events I’ve been involved with in the community: Former mayor

Top 2-3 things I think the city is doing well:

1. Good snow removal

2. The city has contracted with a quality sanitation service, which does a great job

3. Annual Cleanup Day

Top 2-3 things I think the city needs to improve on or change:

1. Review and enforce city ordinances

2. Establish regular and consistent part-time hours that City Hall will be open for the convenience of our citizens.

3. Work with Story County and State of Iowa Emergency Management offices to establish a program to protect and serve our community in case of disaster, be it an act of nature or terrorist activity.

4. Devise a periodic community event or activity that will bring the citizens of Sheldahl together as an opportunity to get to know each other better. This would be especially helpful in case of an emergency, so that stepping up to help one another would come naturally.

Description of what I would like as a city leader; what will I bring to the position:

1. I would like the citizens to be comfortable with contacting me whenever they need to. To that end, it is my intention to re-establish a periodic newsletter to our citizens, keeping them aware of current issues facing our community.

Also, I would like to find a way to open communication with the younger generation to get them interested in ways they could possibly get involved in our community.

2. Having led a movement to incorporate a subdivision into a town, I have experience working with the federal government, along with state and county agencies, As the first mayor of that new town, it was my privilege to work with a great city council to build a local government from the ground up. On a recent visit to that town, I was very proud of it’s accomplishments. The once dirt roads are now asphalt; there are street lights in place, they have a very functional City Hall and have built a lovely city park for the good of the community. So what I bring to the position is positive experience.

Name: Donald Towers (mayor)

Age: 69

Number of years you have lived in community: 29

Occupation: Retired

Family members: Wife, Linda Towers

What things have you been involved in within your community?

I am the incumbent mayor. For years I was involved with 4th of July celebrations. For about 20 years, I made the arrangements for Santa Claus to visit the city shelter. Was a member and two-term past president of the Slater/Sheldahl First Responders. Have been involved with the city of Sheldahl since 1987. I have lived in Polk County all of my life, and in Sheldahl since 1983.

What are the top 2-3 things you think the city is doing well?

I am very proud of the City Council in that we have been able to operate and continue to build the rainy day fund by keeping our cost of operation down. We have a water plant that is operating better than most other cities around us. And the cost of water here is low compared to the cities around us. Our new sanitary sewer system has been up and running. There have been some bugs in the system, but we have been working on them.

What are the top 2-3 things that the city needs to improve on or change?

Number one thing is a storm sewer system. The city has farm tiles running through town that were here when the city was built many years ago. They are now decomposing and in need of constant repair. Our streets are starting to show signs of needing repairs. Also, we have some abandoned homes in town that need to have some attention. The county is no longer providing us with snow removal and we need to find a more cost-effective way to provide winter snow removal than our current private contract.

Describe what you will be like as a city leader. What will you bring to the position?

I will continue to work on the thing I have mentioned as money becomes available. We are always looking for government grants to help us with the things I have talked about and others. I would like to see the bike trail cleaned up to where we can keep it mowed and put up lights so people can walk the trail at night and feel safe in doing so. I would like to thank the City Council, city clerk, city treasurer and others for their support the last four years and would like to continue the next four.

Name: Katie Dunkirk

Age: 42

Number of years you have lived in community: 12

Occupation: Work at Casey’s General Store

Family members: Three children, ages 14, 11, and 9

What things have you been involved in within your community?

I don’t have any experiences being involved in the community, although I have worked at Casey’s General Store for a total of about six years, mostly in Slater, so I am familiar with many of the residents of Slater and Sheldahl. I have also worked in Huxley and Madrid.

What goals would you have as a council member?

My goals as a council member are to listen to and act on the concerns of the residents of Sheldahl and hopefully improve the community for the families that live here.

What specific issues need to be addressed in your community?

My issues are the upkeep of the infrastructure and just dealing with issues that come up. As I said, I have never been involved in the community in any official capacity and I am looking forward to the experience.

Name: Margaret McKinney

Age: 62

Number of years you have lived in community: 34

Occupation: Accountant

Family members: Husband - the late Mike McKinney Sr., son - Mike (Brooke) McKinney Jr., daughter - Michelle (Corey) Fetters, daughter – Melinda McKinney

What things have you been involved in within your community?

Sheldahl United Methodist Church – Sunday School teacher, prepare bulletins; Campfire Girls – leader; AES Softball – treasurer; Dave Ramsey FPU

What goals would you have as a council member?

I would like to serve my town by helping the Sheldahl City Council make decisions to keep our town running smoothly. I have many years of budget experience. I hope my budget experience could be a benefit to my town. I also helped my husband build his trucking company. I have learned to do what needs to be done.

Better communication is also a goal. I would like contact information, name and phone number for problems with sewer, water bill, animal control and noise. Information on city ordinances such as: building codes/permits, animals. I would like updates on the council meetings. I would suggest a newsletter, website, Facebook or post updates at the post office.

What specific issues need to be addressed in your community?

Ongoing issues are dogs, cats, sewer and speeding cars.