Brent Siegrist says he has the right combination of talent and experience to be the next mayor of Council Bluffs.
“I will be running for mayor,” Siegrist said Wednesday morning.
He becomes the second candidate to announce plans to run for mayor in the November election. Councilman Matt Walsh has announced he is also running.
Siegrist said sees his campaign not so much running against other candidates, but rather running for the citizens of Council Bluffs, he said.
“The city is in good shape, and I’m not being critical, but I think we need a fresh vision, a fresh look at how things are being run. We need to take a look at every department and ask `Are we doing the best we can?’”
He said he would seek a fresh approach to determine if city departments could work better for the residents. But he was quick to add, “If it’s not broke, don’t change it.”
Siegrist believes his background is best suited for being mayor, which he described as a “CEO position.”
“I have a lot of experience in that area.”
He represented Council Bluffs for 18 years in the Iowa House, the last 10 holding down the two most powerful positions in that body – Majority Leader, a position he held for seven years, and House Speaker, a post he held for his final three years in the Legislature.
“As speaker, I oversaw the operations of the House. I know what it means to craft a budget for the public.”
Since leaving the Legislature in 2002, he’s been the executive director of Iowa Area Education Agencies of which there is one office in Council Bluffs among nine statewide.
“I have significant chief executive experience, which is what the mayor’s position is. I know how to work with people. I know how to bring people together.”
“I think the city could be a little more aggressive in the area of economic development,” he said. “Right now, we’re not viewed in the same mix as Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City area.”
Siegrist said he knows people in positions who could help Council Bluffs in terms of its economic development efforts. Among them is Deb Durham, a former Sioux City resident who is now head of the state’s Economic Development Department. Should businesses consider location in Iowa, Siegrist said he would make sure Durham would hear the benefits of Council Bluffs.
“At least we’ll get thought about more.”
If elected, Siegrist would make sure public safety is maintained and that the city’s operating budget would remain under control, he said.
“I’m also big on quality of life issues.”
His doors would be open to the public during budget negotiations with the various departments, he said.
“It’s the people’s money, and the more conservation about it the better.”
Siegrist said he wants to maintain the close relationship between the city and the Iowa West Foundation. He said he would also work to bolster the relationship between the city and the county.
He and his wife, Valerie, have two children, Evan and Harriet.
“I have a desire for public service. I’m comfortable with my skills in the public arena.”