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Where should the line be drawn when questioning city council candidates?

(Op-ed by Publisher Matt Marquardt)

A city council race is underway in Mason City. The election is November 8th (but you can cast an absentee ballot at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse before then.)

The city council is in charge of a large part of your local tax dollars and oversees roughly a $50 million dollar budget. They make decisions that impact you everyday, involving your driving, your pets, your homes, where you work, your safety.

They can have a big impact on the future of Mason City. If you do not choose your public servants carefully, you could end up in a town that is losing population, with big box stores and community colleges in the middle of cornfields, run by an elite group of glad-handers who love to line their pockets, pad their resumes and thumb their noses at the common-folk. Whoops, that might have already happened.

In other words, it could be in your best interest to find out more about your council candidates and ask some tough questions before taking the time out of your busy day to vote. (Voting takes about 5 minutes. Everyone qualified should vote.)

No one disputes that each council member’s past and present should be scrutinized. But how closely? What questions are out of bounds?

Should the public be told, for example, about the criminal past, if one exists, of a council candidate?

How about the lifestyle of a candidate. How closely should that story be told? What if a candidate is too busy to effectively serve? What if a candidate is frequently out of town or even overseas? Does the public have a right to know this, or know the facts and make up their own mind? After all, it could be argued that this is private information.

What about the work history of a candidate, and how far back?

How about the mental health history of a candidate. Should the public be told if a candidate is in therapy, on drugs?

Or is it more politically correct to simply ask the general softball questions like “Do you favor more taxes?” and “Are you in favor of a dog park?”

If the public these people want to serve doesn’t get involved, it is possible that very few tough questions will be asked. So far, none have.

Admittedly, questions will only do so much. The sadder story is the fact that only seven Mason Cityans are running for city council for three open spots. Like voting, participation is weak.

Let’s ask the tough questions, get involved and cast a vote over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, your suggestions for questions to ask the council candidates are welcomed. Leave a blog post below and your question might just get posed to a candidate. Please keep the questions you’d like asked tasteful and dignified. will do its best to get answers for you.


– Alex Kuhn
– Sandy Servantez
– Jose Barragan

First Ward:
– Tim Latham
– John Lee

Third Ward:
– Max Weaver
– Jean Marinos

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