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Two men to square off for Swisher mayoral race

Hurlbert and Taylor on ballot for Tuesday, Feb. 4 election

North Liberty Leader

SWISHER– The abrupt resignation of Swisher mayor Tim Mason last November set into motion a special election set for Tuesday, Feb. 4.
Randy Hurlbert and Christopher Taylor are on the ballot for the open seat. The winner will serve for the remainder of Mason’s term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2015.
The Swisher American Legion is the polling place, and it will be open from noon until 8 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. is the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail from the Johnson County Auditor’s office.
Both candidates were sent questions about their background, why they are running and what qualifications they feel they bring to the position of mayor.

Randy Hurlbert

Background information:
I have worked for Harger Acoustics for the last 14 years. I have lived in Swisher for 24 years and have two daughters, Tessa, 24, and Megan, 20.
What prompted you to run for the office of mayor?
A group of people from Swisher believed that I was a strong candidate for the position asked if I would be interested in running for the position.
What issues or challenges do you feel need to be addressed by the Swisher City Council? As mayor, how would you go about dealing with those issues/challenges?
I don’t see any issues for the council and see this as an opportunity for a fresh start for the city. As mayor, I will encourage city officials to keep an open mind and listen to everybody in town in order to make decisions that will be in the best interest of the city.
What qualifications or experience do you bring to the office of mayor?
Have been on the Planning and Zoning Committee for over 10 years and have served as the chairperson for the last three years. I was also active in the community as a member of the volunteer fire department for 14 years and served in various roles within the department. If elected mayor, I feel that I bring a variety of skills and knowledge to the table that would complement the council.

Christopher Taylor

Background information:
My name is Chris Taylor, and I’m a life-long eastern Iowa native. I’m a stay-at-home dad and professional Internet developer. I live in Swisher with my wife, 5-year-old daughter, 1-year-old son, and two big dogs.
What prompted you to run for the office of mayor?
I believe Swisher is at a unique place in its history, where the city council will need to begin asking questions that it’s never had to ask before. However the city itself may change in the next decade, I think it’s safe to say that Cedar Rapids, North Liberty, and the other northern Johnson County communities are only going to continue growing. That means that Swisher is going to need to figure out in the next four, five, 10 years what its long-term priorities are, what it stands for as a community, how it plans to handle change in a constructive way, and– crucially– how we can hold on to the small-town characteristics that make Swisher such a wonderful place to live. I would be honored to participate in that debate.
What issues or challenges do you feel need to be addressed by the Swisher City Council? As mayor, how would you go about dealing with those issues/challenges?
In the short-term, we need to encourage more people from every segment of Swisher’s population to be more active in the decision-making process, whether by volunteering for a city board or commission, or by just showing up at council meetings and letting the councilors know how we expect them to represent us. We also need a stronger plan for long-range infrastructure development, from ongoing road repair and expansion to a responsible water plan that addresses current and future needs. As more and more growth happens in town and nearby, it will become critical that we also have in place a comprehensive land use strategy that clearly lays out who can build what, and where.
Now, I don’t necessarily have all the answers; I don’t think it’s my place to say what the people of Swisher should do. But I think someone needs to make sure that the “big questions” get asked, and that we ask them sooner rather than later, so they don’t take us by surprise. I’d hate to wake up one day and find that we’re unprepared for the future because we focused too much on the past.
What qualifications or experience do you bring to the office of mayor?
I think one of the most important traits a mayor or any other elected official can possess is humility. All too often, we do business the same way for so long that we forget that there might be other ways of doing it. An elected representative has a duty to remain open-minded, and always be willing to listen to and consider different opinions, even if he personally disagrees. Ultimately, the mayor has to educate himself about every side of an issue, and then act– not on his own personal opinions– but according to the best interests of every person he represents. A sense of idealism also helps– a belief that there’s always a way to do things better– faster, cheaper, more fairly, and more transparently– and a commitment to keep striving toward those ideals. If the people of Swisher vote for me, I will never stop listening and learning from them, and will never stop looking for new ways to reach out and better serve each and every one of them.