MASON CITY – Rick Mathes, a local realtor who predicted an “economic winter” for Mason City after the Prestage slaughterhouse he strongly supported was turned away, has given up on Mason City and is moving out of state.
Thanks to one of the growing confidants and informers working with NIT on a daily basis, we were able to secure an email that Rick Mathes sent on the afternoon of September 6, 2016. It was, oddly, addressed to a number of other realtors.
In the email, Rick Mathes paints a dire picture of Mason City, citing population decline, a poor business climate, and his own “struggle” to operate a successful business as reasons why he is tucking his tail between his legs and fleeing his “hometown”.
Prior to this revelation that he is abandoning Mason City, “Realtor Rick” as he likes to be called, fought hard for the Prestage hog slaughtering plant that was eventually turned away. Appointed by Mayor Eric Bookmeyer to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, his board paved the way by approving a zoning change to a large chunk of farmland on the city’s south side. The land was re-zoned heavy industrial with little publicity, leading confident city and state officials (like Bookmeyer and Governor Terry Branstad) to declare on March 21 that Prestage Foods was all set to build on that land inside city limits. However, things quickly turned sour as the actual political process got underway. “Realtor Rick” began to appear at council meetings, lecturing those opposed to the plant; some said he was arrogant and condescending as he stood in his battered leather jacket, leaning on the podium. He sneered at Mason City citizens, looking down upon them as he trumpeted the economic benefits he might reap from the plant.
However, Rick Mathes and others like him were unable to persuade the council. Once the development agreement with Prestage failed, “Realtor Rick” went back to the podium one last time. Standing before the council, Rick Mathes glared in silence at the elected officials, for over a full minute. He then scolded city council members Alex Kuhn, Bill Schickel and John Lee – who did not support the plant – and predicted an “economic winter” for Mason City as a result.
The following is the email Rick Mathes sent on September 6:
Hello Fellow Realtors,
As you know, Mason City’s population has been steadily declining for the past 20+ years.
As a result, “any” realtors possible market share is also steadily declining.
I have struggled greatly with my hometown’s situation, but can no longer ignore what is happening.
By years’ end our family will be relocating to Michigan.
It has been an honor to have served with all of you and I have valued each of your insights and commitment to our MLS.
Rick Mathes aka Realtor Rick