Dick Stoolman on city council
by Rick DeClue · News · April 05, 2013

The West Branch City Council said hello to one member and goodbye to another at its meeting Monday night.

The newest member, Dick Stoolman, was appointed to fill the seat vacated when Mark Worrell became mayor two weeks ago. Stoolman was sworn in at the start of the meeting so he could participate immediately.

Stoolman’s appointment was put on the agenda by Council Member Colton Miller, and was supported by each member and the new mayor.

Stoolman received a loud ovation as he was seated.

It was the last meeting for Council Member Dan O’Neil, who is moving to Solon.

Council member Jim Oaks, who also has a long history with the city, noted Stoolman’s long service to West Branch.

“Number one, we like our town,” Oaks said. And because Stoolman received the next-highest votes in the last election, Oaks added, “I figured he’s a no-brainer.”

Worrell said he wanted a smooth transition.

“Dick is up-to-speed and was the most oriented to the current council,” he said.

He also noted Stoolman’s 50-plus years with the West Branch Fire Department.

“He has served the city through thick and thin,” Worrell said. “With Dick, we’re not losing any ground.”

City Administrator Matt Muckler worked with the Iowa League of Cities to ensure a proper transition for Worrell’s council seat. In a process that will be repeated for O’Neil’s spot, the city has 40 days to either appoint a new member or schedule a special election.

Muckler said the changes will create an unusual election in November. O’Neil, Oaks and the Mayor’s seat were all scheduled for reelection for full four year terms. Stoolman’s appointment is also only through the next scheduled election, when it will be voted on to fill out the final two years of Worrell’s term as council member.

When asked whether he intends to run in November to fill the full term, Stoolman said, “I haven’t given it any thought, yet.”

He said he wants to focus on the city’s infrastructure needs, such as inspection processes and how it sets priorities for projects.

Stoolman will step down from his position as fire administrator. He said he intends to recommend that the position be abolished. The fire administrator position was created for Stoolman five years ago, when he stepped down as fire chief.

Born in Glidden, Stoolman became a West Branch firefighter in 1958. Ten years later, he became fire chief – a position he held for all but three years through 2008. He was succeeded as chief by his son, Kevin Stoolman, who has served the department for more than 30 years himself.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Worrell thanked O’Neil for his service and wished him well in his move. Council member Jordan Ellyson, who is serving her first term, thanked O’Neil for being “almost a mentor” when she joined the council.

Muckler also thanked O’Neil for taking on a number of tough and sometimes controversial issues since he joined the council.

“And you always did it with a great deal of civility, which speaks to your character,” he added.

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