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Meet the Candidates: McGregor Mayor

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Russ Crawmer is running unopposed for the position of McGregor mayor. He hopes residents will appreciate his vision for the community, which embraces growth opportunities while maintaining historic charm and family values. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

McGregor mayoral candidate Russ Crawmer hopes residents will appreciate his vision for the community that embraces growth opportunities while maintaining its historic charm and family values.

 

Crawmer is running unopposed for the position, which has been held the past five years by Lyle Troester, who’s not seeking re-election.

 

He knows there will be big shoes to fill. One of Troester’s strengths has been forging connections and ideas within McGregor. But it’s a quality Crawmer believes he also possesses.

 

“Lyle wants to look at both sides and make a decision that’s best for the community,” Crawmer said. “I feel like we’re similar in wanting to keep good connections with everyone.”

 

Crawmer is running for mayor because, with Troester’s departure, he saw a need for someone to step up.

 

“I think some people are afraid of the conflict that comes with it. I’ve heard, ‘Oh, boy. You’ll have people bugging you night and day.’ But that part of it excited me. Embracing conflict is an important piece. I’m not going to run from it,” Crawmer shared. “I enjoy working with people, finding out what the problem is and helping people talk through it. Maybe help people come up with solutions on their own. I like to ask people, if they have a problem with something, ‘What do you suggest we do?’ Sometimes people just need to talk through their feelings.”

 

Crawmer and his family moved to McGregor from the Pacific Northwest several years ago. He and his wife of nearly 28 years, Ruth, have five children and are now enjoying being grandparents. The family is involved in the local home school co-op for students in third grade through high school, which has allowed the Crawmer kids to pursue topics from ballet to aviation.

 

“There’s a lot of support for that here,” he said. “There’s no better place to raise our kids.”

 

Crawmer has a background working with children and families for about 25 years. He’s helped communities build supports for education and funding as well as connections with local government.

 

“That experience with families and communities is what I plan to bring to McGregor,” Crawmer said.

 

“I’m a family guy, so it’s important to keep our community welcoming and family friendly,” he added. “Upper Main Street is blanketed with churches, and I’m also looking forward to strong ties with the faith-based community.”

 

If elected, one of Crawmer’s priorities would be seeing McGregor through phase II of its extensive Main Street reconstruction project. The second phase will include Main Street from B Street to Buell Avenue, past St. Mary Catholic Church. The area is largely residential and is also home to several churches, the library and Dr. Smith Childcare.

 

Early 2024 will be a good time to evaluate what went well (and what didn’t) during phase I of the project, then apply those lessons to phase II, according to Crawmer.

 

“We’ll have to look at what can we do for access to homes and churches and traffic and parking,” he said. “I think it will be a little different dynamic versus the daily businesses. Some of the residents are concerned with they don’t have access from the back of their home, so how is it going to work with getting groceries in and things like that. I think we’ll all work together and make it work.”

 

Here, too, Crawmer hopes to take a page from Troester’s book. The current mayor has been relentless in seeking funding sources for Main Street.

 

“He worked through tough, unforeseen challenges while protecting citizens from the financial burdens of such a large project,” Crawmer said.

 

Other infrastructure projects are also among Crawmer’s goals. He proposed forging public and private partnerships, using local contractors and builders to help promote a healthy local economy.

 

The move would make McGregor an even more welcoming place for new small businesses and potentially spur new housing development, Crawmer said. 

 

“We’re already seeing new families move in and purchasing historical homes, and talking with them, they feel blessed to have found an active community. We’re built on hard work, kindness and good morals,” he shared. “I’d like to continue beautification of roadways and sidewalks. Take a hard look at how we can improve on what we already have while keeping the history accessible to young families and the elderly too. A lot of sidewalks are needing some care. I understand a lot of that is the homeowner’s responsibility, so looking at what we can do as a city with grants to help with that, since I know not everybody can afford to do that.”

 

A lot of exciting new changes are on the horizon for McGregor. Crawmer stressed that keeping ideas in the best interest of community members is important.

 

“We’re going to see new business and development, historical buildings restored. There are some new, exciting ideas out there for the parks and cleaning up the riverfront and having a better connection between McGregor and Marquette. Eventually we’re going to have to address the parking downtown,” Crawmer said. “I’d like to promote strengthening our local businesses through those new opportunities, while also maintaining the historical side of McGregor and looking at growth.” 

 

Wife Ruth also gave a strong pitch in support of her husband’s mayoral candidacy.

 

“Russ is a father and has worked with governmental agencies and the public. In past situations, he’s also gone through finances and how to make the dollars stretch and that each dollar is placed where it’s going to have the most impact,” she explained. “His focus is on people and making things work. Russ is really good at bringing people together, and I think McGregor needs more opportunities for families to come and visit. Russ is great with networking and connecting people and making those relationships.”

 

Concluded Ruth, “Having some of those pieces will really help the businesses in our area. The stronger the businesses are, the more vitality your city has. It’s a positive circle all around, but you have to have somebody at the wheel who’s driving the energy. Russ has that.”

 

The combined city/school board election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day. For more information on candidates as well as voter registration and identification requirements, absentee voting and polling places, please visit elections.claytoncountyia.gov.

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