MASON CITY – A man recently elected to the Mason City council who sources say may have mis-lead a county supervisor before being appointed to the county’s economic development board has resigned from that board.
Sources tell NIT that Brett Schoneman told county supervisor Jay Urdahl earlier this year that he had no aspirations for running for city council. Schoneman was seeking and was soon appointed to the North Iowa Corridor’s Board of Directors, an economic development agency that is granted hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by the governments of Mason City, Clear Lake and Cerro Gordo county. Supervisor Jay Urdahl championed Schoneman’s appointment to the Corridor board, based partly on Schoneman’s word he would not run for city council.
Soon thereafter, however, Schoneman announced his candidacy for Ward 3 city council. Sources tell NIT that Mr. Urdahl was “irate” at Schoneman’s announcement and feared potential political fallout with voters, as he is likely to seek re-election next fall.
Last month, NIT questioned the county supervisors about Schoneman’s existence on the North Iowa Corridor’s Board of Directors. The supervisors were challenged as to whether or not the county as a whole would be improperly represented if two Mason City council members sat on the board – Travis Hickey being the other city council member on that board. The supervisors were also challenged as to how much they knew about Mr. Schoneman. All three supervisors – Casey Callanan, Phil Dougherty and Mr. Urdahl – admitted they knew virtually nothing about Mr. Schoneman except his name and where he works (Schoneman Realty). None knew he was a member of the Mason City Airport Board. All three admitted no other candidates were considered for the open board spot at the Corridor. Mr. Urdahl said his choice of Mr.
Schoneman for the Corridor board was based largely on “phone calls” from certain un-named individuals and that Mr. Schoneman was somehow involved in economic development. Mr. Urdahl denied he was lobbied or pressured by Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer to place Mr. Schoneman on the board. Some have said Eric is Mr. Schoneman’s “mentor”, and has groomed him for months to fill the council seat many knew would be vacated by Jean Marinos, but Mr. Schoneman denies this relationship with Eric. Mr. Urdahl adamantly told NIT that “I can assure you, Eric Bookmeyer never tells the county what to do.”
During interviews with NIT, Mr. Urdahl and Mr. Callanan refused to rule out revisiting Mr. Schoneman’s membership to the Corridor board. Mr. Schoneman told NIT in an interview he would also think about his future on the board.
In the wake of these development and revelations, today, the Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors quietly accepted the resignation of Brett Schoneman from the North Iowa Corridor Board of Directors.
How this resignation finally came to pass is not readily clear, and Mr. Schoneman did not immediately respond to NIT when asked about his move to resign.
What is clear, however, is that the Cerro Gordo Board of Supervisors has made a move to be very open in future appointments to the North Iowa Corridor Board of Directors. Breaking from the tradition of more or less secretly picking out an individual for nomination, the board today revealed that it would take applications from the public. The document shown below will allegedly be posted to the county’s website, and anyone will be able to send in an application, so long as that individual is paying dues to the North Iowa Corridor.