Stevenson, Sexton up for open council seat
by Rick DeClue · News · May 03, 2013

According to City Administrator Matt Muckler, Council Member Jordan Ellyson asked that current Planning and Zoning Commission member Mary Beth Stevenson be put on the May 6 agenda for appointment to the open council seat created by Dan O’Neil’s resignation.

Also under consideration is Bobby Sexton, a former member of the council.

If the council agrees to an appointment, the city will avoid a special election to fill the seat for six months until November’s election.

Stevenson has served on P&Z for 1 1/2 years. Her husband, Dan Stevenson, is president of the West Branch Library Board. They have a 2-year old, Dahlia, with another child on the way next month.

According to Ellyson, Stevenson’s name was considered even before Dick Stoolman was appointed to fill the open seat created when Mark Worrell was appointed mayor.

Ellyson believes that her own election to council in 2011 gave the city its first female council member in 15 years. The current council had discussed the possible need for more diversity.

“Mary Beth’s name came up because she has a lot of knowledge, plus her family and her career,” said Ellyson.

Stevenson works for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Coralville. She advises communities on watershed implementation and restoration.

Stevenson also spoke with Worrell, Muckler and other council members to express her interest in serving, if appointed.

Having lived in larger cities such as Boston, she said she is very happy in West Branch. While she did not specify any particular projects she would like to pursue, Stevenson likes the direction the city is going and its prospects for growth.

Her discussions leading up to her possible appointment alleviated some concerns about the commitment required to serve on council.

Stevenson respects the experience of the mayor and current council members, and thinks the city is lucky to have Muckler as its administrator.

“I really do want to help,” she said.

As for Sexton, he was previously appointed to council in April 2009 to fill a vacancy created when Todd Stoolman stepped down. Sexton then won the November 2009 election to fill out the two remaining years of Stoolman’s term.

A native of West Branch and an experienced home builder, Sexton also talked with Worrell, several council members and Muckler about the open seat, indicating that he would like to serve if appointed.

Sexton described his previous stint on council as “sometimes frustrating trying to get five council members to agree.”

“My views are my views. Other members might have their own views,” he added.

Sexton said that part of his frustration was what he felt was unfinished business. In particular, he would like the city to continue its efforts to provide a community center or other activities for kids. This could mean working more closely with the schools to coordinate future proposals.

There will be more opportunities to serve. The November election will see contests for mayor, two full four-year council member terms and a two-year term for Stoolman’s seat.

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