Some of the questions thrown at the five Ames City Council candidates Thursday covered predictable topics: union support, whether to build a heated pool, or thoughts on attracting big box stores.
The candidates fielded those questions and others during a League of Women Voters of Ames sponsored forum at .
But perhaps the most interesting questions and answers of the night were prompted by a man wearing a blue skirt and a multi-colored scarf. His questions had no bearing on candidates' ability to handle city business, but it showed who was willing to answer what.
Incumbent councilmen Jami Larson, of Ward 2, and Matthew Goodman, who holds an at-large seat, are unopposed. Three newcomers — Victoria Szopinski, a former conference director at Iowa State University; Frank Jeffrey, a physicist and cofounder of PowerFilm; and Chuck Jons, a retired physician — are vying for the Ward 4 seat.
Questions were taken from about 26 people seated in the audience. The man most know as Richard asked candidates, “If this were a perfect world and you had only one day instead of four years to be on the Ames City Council, what would you do?”
Jons said, “I think if I could do one thing it would be to somehow provide jobs in this community for everyone who would like to live and work here. As I walked around the last four weeks and talked to people, one of the biggest concerns was how many houses for sale are present, at least in Ward 4.”
Larson said, “I think it's the idea to create an environment where there is enough economic growth within the community that it comes back to the citizens in the form of our community betterment portion of our budget because that is the portion ... that makes them feel good about being a part of Ames.”
Szopinski said, “Hopefully it's a very long day and that's a tall order. I suppose if I could do as much as I could in one day I'd want to look for ways that we had the resources to make sure that everyone's quality of life is good. We have children in need of food and we have elderly people who need more assistance.”
Goodman said he would assume it was a benevolent monarchy and he wouldn't have to wrangle three other votes to get things done. “I guess for me it would be that every child in the community is infused with an unbridled sense of respect and an opportunity to capitalize on that respect no matter their economic or social status.”
Jeffrey said he didn't believe in doing something in a day because it's not actually possible. “A long continuous effort has to be put in to make things better. … The city … their job is to have infrastructure and framework in place to give all the citizens in Ames the opportunity to succeed to pursue the best quality of life they can.” He said that the cost of living also has to be minimal.
Choice for President?
Richard came back to the microphone at the end of the two-hour session and talked about a man who opened doors for people and said, “I voted for a man that was killed in Pakistan to be president. Who do you vote for to be president?”
Goodman said, “Who will I vote for president? … Most recently I supported Barack Obama."
Jeffrey said the nice thing about the City Council is that it doesn't relate to city politics.
“I think of myself as a Goldwater Republican and I voted for Barack Obama last time," he said. " I look at any candidate out there and try to find the most rational individual and that's who I will vote for.”
Jons said, “I have no idea who I will vote for. Washington politics is very irrational and fortunately has very little relationship to the governance of the city of Ames. I'd love to be able to give you a name of a person, but I have not seen my ideal person on the TV screen yet.”
Larson called himself a moderate and said he wouldn't run in a partisan race. “The candidate I would have voted for has already been eliminated in the process.”
Szopinski said she didn't want to be a party pooper but, “People who need to know my politics know my politics. I think they might have shined through in some of the answers I gave to earlier questions.”