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Meet the candidates

SOLON– There’s only one contested race in the Solon city election scheduled for Nov. 8.
Appointed incumbent Mark Krall and challenger Chuck Panzer are both seeking to fill an unexpired term on the Solon City Council. One of the two will finish out a two-year term replacing former council member Brad Randall.
There should be another seat to fill after the beginning of the year, because council member Cami Rasmussen is the only candidate to replace Rick Jedlicka as mayor.
Two other seats on the council will be decided officially in the election, but it shouldn’t be too suspenseful with incumbent Brad Kunkel seeking re-election and Ron Herdliska looking to replace the most tenured member of the present council, Sue Ballantyne.
All of the candidates were asked to answer a short series of questions. Here are their responses.

Two-year unexpired term
(vote for one)
Mark Krall
Tell us about your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve on the Solon City Council. 
I served two previous terms on the city council between 1996-2005. During that time I was part of a council that accomplished many positive areas of growth in our Solon community.  For example, hiring a city administrator, providing a well and treatment facility, also the sewer plant updates that were needed to accommodate the growth of Solon; the current progression of new sidewalks, streets and curbs that is ongoing.  I helped initiate the planning for the recreational facility that has proven to be successful and that continues to grow. I was most recently appointed to fill in for a council member who resigned in January of this year that will end this month. I would like the opportunity to continue to be a city council member and continue to work for the betterment of our community.

What do you see as positives in Solon today? What is going right?
I view our residential and commercial growth as a positive for our community. Provisions for our youth and seniors are heading in the right direction as well.

What improvements or changes do you see as necessary in how the city is progressing? What will be your priorities?
 In the near future we will need more space for the community for groups, organizations, and committees to meet and gather and seeing that this is done in the best interest of the people who live in the city of Solon.  In general, my priority is to keep up our infrastructure as we grow and to keep updated as needed.

Chuck Panzer
Tell us about your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve on the Solon City Council.
I am retired military with 36 years of active, reserve, and National Guard duty. I am a former Jaycee holding many local and state offices. I am a 30-year member of the Solon American Legion having held various local, county and district offices. I have been a member of several local and county commissions, many as chairperson. I am presently a member of the Solon Library Board of Trustees, having served three years as president. Solon is my community and I would like to serve a more active part.

What do you see as positives in Solon today? What is going right?
I feel our community is growing as it offers a quality of life experienced not only for the longtime residents, but also for new residents as they move here from other communities. By moving to Solon, it indicates they are wanting a vibrant and forward-looking community. I feel that the city government has enjoyed a harmonious relationship with the Solon schools. People moving here, with children, recognize the qualities of the school system and the attributes of the community. I feel Solon continues to experience an orderly growth, rather than a hodge podge or helter skelter type of growth, thanks to many feasible ordinances in place.

What improvements or changes do you see as necessary in how the city is progressing? What will be your priorities?
I have no axes to grind or an agenda to bring forth. I feel that my presence on the city council will allow me to help the city move forward and constructively plan for the future.

Four-year term
(vote for two)
Ron Herdliska
Tell us about your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve on the Solon City Council.
As an educator and administrator for the past 40-plus years, I feel that my ability to listen to all views of a discussion will benefit me on the Solon City Council. In the 46 years since my graduation from Upper Iowa University, I have been a math, business, accounting and physical education teacher in the Meservey Thornton, Solon and Williamsburg school systems. Additionally, I coached football, wrestling, basketball, baseball, softball and track. In 1971, I earned my masters degree in secondary school administration from Northeast Missouri State. In 1977, our family (wife Linda, son Michael and daughter Michele) returned to Solon where I served the district as the junior high principal, district transportation director, district technology director and high school athletic director. Shortly after retiring from the Solon Community School District in 2001, I accepted a position as the Director of Linn County LIFTS (the paratransit arm of the Linn County and Cedar Rapids transportation systems), retiring after five years.
Since retirement, I have been working with the Solon Library Board of Trustees, the Solon Library Foundation (president), and the Solon Senior Advocates. Linda and I provide transportation for anyone in the community needing rides to appointments and such. Being a part of these groups has opened my eyes to the needs of various groups in our community. My background with budgets, transportation, technology and working with people of all ages will benefit me in making decisions regarding the future of Solon.

What do you see as positives in Solon today? What is going right?
The past administration and council members have provided a great atmosphere for growth. Many good decisions have been made and the people responsible for them need to be thanked for their foresight and efforts. All you have to do is look around and you see the many changes that have occurred in the last 10-15 years. I look at the facilities available to our residents and am thankful to be a citizen of Solon.

What improvements or changes do you see as necessary in how the city is progressing? What will be your priorities?
Changes will occur as we stay on course with our present rate of improvements. We have to continue to work at attracting new business and people to our fine community. We definitely need a new location for our city hall. Voters will decide whether the Brosh site is the proper move or not. If the voters decide against that site, we must evaluate other options as a potential home for city hall. The present city hall would make an excellent home for our Solon Historical Society.
Also, we need to work very hard with communicating with county and school officials. We are growing rapidly and the demand for cooperation between all groups is paramount. In many cases, we can pool our resources and reach common sense solutions to monetary problems.
Some personal priorities that I have are:
• Introduce new ideas into the budgetary process– let the department heads decide how their money will be spent. The council can avoid micromanaging and tend to other facets of city government.
• More participation in the council meeting by the library, fire, streets and recreational departments. Invite a representative of each to attend council meetings and keep council members informed of current happenings.
• Investigate the possibility of a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 1 and 180th street;
• Determine the feasibility of a swimming pool in the town of Solon;
I look forward to serving the community that has been so wonderful to our family. Now is the time to repay Solon for so many great memories.

Brad Kunkel
Tell us about your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve on the Solon City Council.
I’ve been involved in public safety and civil service for the last 13 years.  I began my public service career as a volunteer firefighter and have been a deputy sheriff for the last 10 years.  My experiences have given me helpful insight on issues involving city government. I’ve learned to examine things from all sides and try to get as many answers as possible before making important decisions. I’m currently working toward a BA in political science from the University of Iowa.  And as a husband, father and homeowner, I can relate to nearly all of the aspects of city responsibility.

What do you see as positives in Solon today? What is going right?
We are very fortunate to have a budget that is well managed by the city administrator and the department heads.  Our streets are well maintained and we make it a priority to move forward with curb and gutter improvements every year.  As a council, we approach issues by looking at both short- and long- term impacts on the city and the citizens.  And while we encourage growth in our subdivisions, we remain committed to maintaining the central part of Solon.  
Three years ago, we started our fall Leaf Pick-up Program which has cut down on the need for open burning while promoting public health and air quality.  Our recreation department continues to add activities and the Solon Recreation and Nature Area is one of the sources of community pride. Solon’s infrastructure is solid and is a priority when considering our growth.
 
What improvements or changes do you see as necessary in how the city is progressing? What will be your priorities?
As our subdivisions move toward completion, the city will need to examine its growth needs.  Solon will continue to draw new residents because of the quality of the community and the quality of the school system. Discussions on Solon expansion will have to happen in the next few years.  
As our town grows and with it city services, we will need to examine our employee structure to see how to best accommodate our services.  Library and public works services are both in high demand and staff will have to adjust accordingly.
I’d also like to look at our open burning ordinance and discuss what changes can be made to benefit everyone.  Now that our Leaf Pick-up Program in established, we should examine the need for open burning of yard waste.

Mayor: four year term
Cami Rasmussen
Tell us about your personal history, background or interests that have prepared you to serve as the mayor of Solon?
Solon has been our home for 17 years. I grew up in Polk City near Des Moines where my father was the chief of police and I thank him for my natural interest in city government. My husband Terry has been the office manager at Toyota of Iowa City for 16 years and we are active members of St. Mary Catholic Church. My oldest daughter graduated from Solon in 2003 and lives in Ely with her family. She is known to her preschool class at All Aboard Daycare as Miss Jessie. She has a son, my grandson, Tyler, who is in first grade. I was a teenager when she was born and because of that I try to be an example of how being a teenage mother does not limit your possibilities and opportunities in life. Terry and I have three children together– Cari Ann in fifth grade, Ryan in first grade and John, age 2. I began working for the City of Solon in 1998 as the city clerk/treasurer. Already having several years of accounting experience, this gave me an opportunity to work with government accounting and gain experience in municipal operations. As our family grew, I chose to focus more time on family while providing support to city staff with training, financial reviews and special projects. Enjoying community involvement, I also served on the Friends of the Library Board and the Solon Senior Advocates as an at-large member. Elected to serve on the city council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, I have a genuine desire to serve our community and lead Solon into the future. My 14 years of working knowledge of the many aspects of Solon government have prepared me to serve as mayor of Solon.

What do you see as positives in Solon today? What is going right?
Solon is a small town rich in tradition with a promising future. Our quality school system, the Solon Recreation and Nature Area, new Timber DOME Lodge, the Solon Public Library, along with growing churches, a new high school and expanding elementary school plus our location to Lake Macbride make Solon a great place to put down roots. We have much to offer families and we will continue to see residential and commercial growth. The City of Solon is a well-managed and financially sound municipality. By prioritizing short term and long term capital projects, our experienced council and staff work together to meet the needs of our growing community while remaining fiscally responsible. Solon Beef Days, Music on Main and our successful recreation programs are some examples of how folks who live in our community contribute their time and talents. Our finest assets are the people who generously support our community, making Solon one of the best places to live in Iowa.

What improvements or changes do you see as necessary in how the city is progressing? What will be your priorities?
Solon’s population has grown 73 percent over the last 10 years. Infrastructure needs are always a priority and Solon has completed a major sewer plant upgrade, a new water treatment center, added two new wells and adopted a proactive street curb and gutter plan. This coming year, work will begin on adding turn lanes on Highway 1 at the 5th Street intersection and a Main Street streetscape project is in the planning stages. Seventy-three percent growth also requires the need to assess staffing which the council has recently done and will continue to do as needed. A new maintenance shop has just been completed and a new city hall is needed to have adequate office and community meeting space. A new city hall that represents our progressive community will encourage commercial growth, allowing the city to receive revenue from commercial property tax which ultimately lessens the city’s overall tax burden on residential property. I will continue to support tax abatement, use of TIF and the Main Street Façade Program to attract new commercial business and encourage improvements to existing businesses. Solon businesses will thrive with our continued patronage. It is exciting that Solon’s two largest employers, Solon Retirement Village and Solon Lakeview Elementary, are both currently in the process of major expansions. My priority as mayor will be to promote change that will ease Solon into a successful future while maintaining the small town atmosphere our residents cherish.