Harden gave up Des Moines for ‘small town’ City Hall
by Gregory R. Norfleet · News · December 07, 2012

Jennifer Harden switched sides: she used to help prepare state audit reports for city, county and state agencies.

Now she works for the city, and on the receiving end of those audits. She said she even knew the auditor who recently visited West Branch’s City Hall.

Harden, the new administrative assistant for the City of West Branch, brings nine years of experience in administrative support roles.

The West Branch City Council unanimously voted to hire Harden at its Oct. 15 meeting from a pool of 57 applications. They also set the salary at $31,200 a year.

Harden and husband Tim lived in Des Moines for a couple of years while she worked for the Auditor of State.

Now with a baby, Layne, who turned 1 on Friday, they live in Solon, getting closer to family in Williamsburg, where she’s from, and Tipton, where he’s from.

Tim’s new job, as an environmental specialist with Alliant Energy, brought them back to the area over the summer. They chose Solon because of proximity to family, good schools and the small size.

“Des Moines is a nice place to visit,” she said. “But do I want to live there long-term? I’m more of a small-town person.”

That small-town atmosphere also attracted her to apply for the West Branch job.

“I’m used to it,” she said. “It’s the environment I like.”

Harden, who started here Oct. 29, said that the city job is harder than working for the state.

Utility billing keeps her the busiest, and then she also answers phones, greets walk-in traffic, assists the city clerk and administrator, and takes minutes at Planning and Zoning and every other City Council meeting.

“There’s so much involved working for the city,” she said. “It’s challenging. In my last job, I caught on quickly and enjoyed my work. I was confident in my abilities. There’s a variety here.”

Harden is a 1998 graduate of Williamsburg High School and earned an associates degree in liberal arts from Kirkwood Community College.

She likes NASCAR and country music and being outdoors, like fishing.

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