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Five candidates running for Tiffin City Council

Introducing Lexi Rector, Melissa Arey, Christine Olney

TIFFIN– Five candidates are on the Tuesday, Nov. 5, ballot for Tiffin City Council as incumbent Peggy Upton, Melissa Arey, Christine Olney, Lexi Rector and Rodney Walls will battle for two, four-year terms.
Tiffin residents will also see a library levy on the ballot. If passed (50 percent required), the Tiffin Public Library Support Levy would increase from .10 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to .27 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, “for the purpose of offsetting general fund expenses for the City of Tiffin’s annual operating budget.” Collection would begin on July 1, 2020.
All candidates were sent a series of questions, and their responses are printed below. Responses were not received from Peggy Upton and Rodney Walls in time for this issue.
Lexi Rector is a marketing assistant at Copy Systems, Inc. in Coralville, and a mother of two. She has lived in Tiffin for approximately a year-and-a-half.
Melissa Arey is a University of Iowa alumna who has lived in Tiffin for over a decade. She works for a non-profit organization as an editor for scientific research working with a diverse group of researchers worldwide. “I have been active in the school district with my three daughters, and have served on the Board of Adjustments for the City of Tiffin,” she said.
Christine Olney is an Administrative Secretary in Iowa City’s Clerks Office. She grew up in West Liberty and attended Kirkwood Community College, where she earned a Computer LAN Management Certificate. “After living 25 years in Iowa City, my husband Daryl and I decided to relocate choosing Tiffin as our new home,” she said. “Having lived here for three years I have come to love the family friendly community with great neighborhoods, parks and trails. I enjoy bike riding, Kent Park hikes, gardening, birding and spending time with family and friends.”

Why are you running for election to the city council? If an incumbent, why are you seeking reelection?
Rector — “I am invested in the future of Tiffin, I moved here so that my kids could grow up in a small community and go through CCA with all the same kids and families.”
Arey — “I am running because I feel that it is important to be involved in our city government and I feel that I have knowledge and skills that would be beneficial to our city.”
Olney — “I have an interest in the growth and development of Tiffin and would like the opportunity to make a positive contribution of common-sense solutions, to be involved in developing policies and plans that will enhance the city now and into the future. I will bring a fresh new perspective and not lose sight of why people have chosen to move to or remain in Tiffin. I want to be a “Voice for Smart Growth.”

What skills, experience, background do you bring to the council?
Rector — “I am open-minded and focused on growth, I’ve worked a lot in strategic planning and believe that at the rate of Tiffin’s growth there needs to be someone who is advocating for all of the new, young families and who has a personal investment in the future of Tiffin.”
Arey — “First and foremost, I am a longtime resident of Tiffin and the surrounding area. I have raised my family here and am deeply committed to building a community that continues to welcome new people and improve our town for current citizens.
I have strong communication and team building skills, evidenced by decades of working with people from around the country and world.
I value responsibility and ownership of problems and will work to address problems head on while working towards a solution.”
Olney — “As an Administrative Secretary in Iowa City’s Clerks Office, I have gained invaluable knowledge and experiences in the workings of city government. I currently serve on the Tiffin Board of Adjustment. I am the staff representative for Iowa City’s Community Police Review Board which makes me familiar with Roberts rule of order, open meetings/open records law. The ability to listen respectfully and weigh differing opinions. I can remain objective, open to ideas/suggestions and can offer common sense solutions. Detailed oriented person with analytical skills, I will look for solutions from all angles. Experience in team building concepts, conflict resolution matters.”

What do you see as the greatest challenge, or challenges facing the City of Tiffin?
Rector — “Going from a small town to suddenly booming means that there are a lot of old ways of thinking and doing things, and a mix of public support and public hesitation. I know that the public’s opinion on changes has a huge impact on the overall health of the city. I know that I would bring a good balance of understanding and advocating for Tiffin’s roots, while having a vision for how we can evolve as a community.”
Arey — “Balancing the growth of the City with the needed infrastructure to handle that growth with limited resources.”
Olney — “Balancing the City growth, planning for essential infrastructure needs and to remain fiscally responsible. To be able to keep the family friendly small-town community feeling while still creating amenities valuable to the city. To have open communications and transparency.”

What would be your proposed solution, and as one voice on the council, how would you garner support?
Rector — “Before coming to one “solution” that I think is best, I think it’s best to look at each proposal that comes in front of me independently and hear different opinions from other city council members and the general public. A main concern of mine recently is the amount of vandalism that has been happening. I think it’s a concern, and I think there needs to be immediate action taken to explore our options as a city and how we can protect our community.”
Arey — “There is no one solution to this. It will take long-term vision and planning to accomplish. As the needs continue to grow, we must have goals and benchmarks, with oversight to make sure those goals are met.”
Olney — “I believe by working cohesively as a team and the goal of making Tiffin better we would be able to achieve economic growth and still maintain the great neighborhoods. I will encourage members to listen and acknowledge the concerns, opinions, and ideas of others. To draw on strengths from all points of view. As a team we will accomplish much more than any one individual.
Open communication and transparency is the key to a successful city. Goals made for the city should be with input from the community, city staff and council. By offering multiple options for the community to express their concerns, such as holding listening posts, town hall events, even coffee with a councilor. Every resident should know their opinion matters in decisions being made.”

What is your assessment of the state of the City of Tiffin overall, and how do you think you can benefit it by being on the council?
Rector — “I think Tiffin is an amazing community with an opportunity of getting even better, very quickly. I think that as long as small-town politics are pushed aside, we can all agree that we want what is best for our community and children and work together to prepare for the inevitable rush of development and people coming in.”
Arey — “The State of Tiffin is very good, as evidenced by its spot as one of the fastest growing cities in Iowa. I will be a benefit to the city due to my ability to work well with many different types of people to meet goals.”
Olney — “Overall the City of Tiffin is moving in the right direction and the previous council should be applauded for all their hard work and planning. I will offer common sense solutions, keep an open mind and above all else listen to the community. I will be a voice for smart growth.”