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The longest-serving council member in Swisher

Mary Gudenkauf has helped shape her community since 2008

SWISHER– During the March meeting of the Swisher City Council, Mayor Chris Taylor offered congratulations to council member Mary Gudenkauf, who he said “just set a new record for Swisher’s longest-serving council member in at least 40 years!” Gudenkauf was elected to the council in 2008 and is serving a term which expires in 2023.
When asked about the distinction, she initially and jokingly called it a “rumor,” but added since Taylor is a Conflict of Interest Research Application Analyst with the University of Iowa, “I’m inclined to believe he fact-checked his own statement.”
Gudenkauf is a native of nearby Fairfax where she rode her bike “endlessly,” camped in the backyard under the stars and “played countless pick up games with local kids.”
“I truly wanted the same idyllic childhood for our three daughters,” she said. In 1997, husband Charlie, a native of Swisher “won the battle of Fairfax versus Swisher and we returned to the community where his parents raised their family.” Finding a home in the College Community School District was a non-negotiable for them, she said. “Swisher is the perfect location.” She added Charlie’s father, David Gudenkauf, was the town sheriff in the 1960s when a jail cell was located in the basement of City Hall. “The basement windows still have black bars on the exterior, where an original jail cell still exists.”
Gudenkauf has served on the Board of Directors for the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, the Prairie School Foundation, and is an active volunteer with the Prairie Booster Club. “I have the good fortune of working as a career advisor with Prairie High School students in career education and exploration. We have amazing young people in our area and we adults should all rest easier knowing their futures are bright.”
Shortly after moving to Swisher, she joined the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, serving until 2007 when she resigned and ran for the city council.
“I recognized the need for a strategic growth plan given the unique midpoint in the fastest growing corridor in the state. Swisher residents would all agree we enjoy the amenities of small-town living,” she said. “With this comes an annual challenge of forecasting our city budget with a mere 360 homeowners to fund our initiatives.”
According to City-Data.com the 2017 population of Swisher was 970, a 19.3 percent increase since 2000. “The opportunities for Swisher are immense and our small business community provides a small-town charm. We have a tremendous obligation to plan carefully for Swisher’s future,” she noted.
Gudenkauf briefly led the city as Mayor Pro Tem after a sudden resignation (during a council meeting) in Nov. 2013 until a special election (won by Taylor) in February of 2014.
Currently the city is undergoing a major improvement and reconstruction of 120th Street through town in conjunction with Johnson County.
“This is a much-needed capital investment,” she said noting previous councils have planned and budgeted for the project, which when completed will make for a safer thoroughfare meeting current design standards.
The council also recently approved a resolution requesting the formation of a City Water Utility Exploration Committee, the latest step toward potentially bringing a municipal water system to Swisher.
“A group of residents, business representatives and two council members are researching all aspects of a city water infrastructure,” Gudenkauf reported.
Swisher and Shueyville are the only two cities in Johnson County without city water, and the topic has been brought up several times in recent years. “I envision this committee would subsequently bring their data to Swisher’s council for consideration as part of Swisher’s Future Growth Plan,” she added.
Eventually, she said, the council would likely be tasked with educating residents, gathering feedback and determining next steps. If deemed worthy of pursuing, ultimately it would go to a vote by the residents.
“We have a tremendous obligation to plan carefully for Swisher’s future,” she said. “I am passionate about ensuring we are attracting young families, retaining and growing our business partners and balancing our demographics, all in an effort to keep our community vibrant. In 2020, Swisher remains an ideal small community. Residents are friendly, volunteer-driven and proud to live here.”