Wednesday, Oct. 13, is the first day for Iowans to vote absentee for city and school candidates in the 2021 election.
Bloomfield residents will find two candidates for mayor on the ballot. Chris Miller, Mayor from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2017, is challenging incumbent Mayor Daniel Wiegand for the top position in Bloomfield’s city government.
The Bloomfield Democrat interviewed both mayoral candidates last week and is publishing their statements for the benefit of voters as they prepare on how to vote.
Chris Miller said he ran for the office of mayor in 2010 because he had returned to his hometown of Bloomfield and had a strong interest in government and politics.
“I felt I could make a difference,” he said, “and I’m running for the same reason this time. I’m a business owner and part of the community. Friends and family brought me back to my hometown where everybody knows me.”
One of Miller’s primary goals if he wins the election is to build relationships, beginning at the city level.
“There has been quite a division in the council the past few years,” he said. “Getting along doesn’t always mean agreeing on everything (as a council), but building relationships is important if the community is to move forward efficiently. We need to start in-house with rebuilding relationships, then work with organizations and boards to move forward efficiently.”
Miller said he is well aware that the mayor needs to spend 20-30 hours per week “with his mayor’s hat on,” attending lots of meetings and functions with political figures.
“But I like listening to people and working on projects with DCDC, Bloomfield Main Street, the schools and other entities that help people,” he said.
“Each one of the organizations brings something to Bloomfield, but there have been strained relationships. If there is not a good relationship (with these entities), it is hard to make progress,” Miller said.
“I would like to see us get more aggressive in getting people to come to Bloomfield.
“We need to bring more people to Bloomfield, build more homes and fill the buildings around the square. This would lessen our tax liability.”
Miller said the current administration has done a good job with Bloomfield’s streets. “They have got a lot of bang for their buck with the combination of asphalt and sealcoating,” he said, “but we need to get a plan on the table for sidewalks around the square.”
Miller said providing amenities that appeal to families would help bring new residents to the community.
“We need to get a Babe Ruth field completed,” he said. “Sports are a big part of this community.”
Miller looks forward to the completion of the pickle ball court at the City Park and wants to see the Mutchler Center sponsor several leagues for public recreation and fitness.
As mayor, Miller would act to get the tree dump open again. “We’re one storm away from a big mess,” he said.
Looking at utilities, Miller understands that rates had to raise due to the new sewer plant, but he is pleased that the city owns its own utilities and therefore has control over its own destiny.
“Hopefully, we can hold our rates stable and maybe even lower them,” he added.
“I don’t know yet if we can implement more renewable energy to relax our costs,” he commented, “but raising rates should be a last-ditch decision.”
Miller said there is a strong movement to get people gathering in the courtyard on summer weekends. “I would truly like to build on that,” he said. “We have a beautiful square and we need to get excited about getting people out and mingling in the courtyard at least once a month from May to September.”
Miller believes such opportunities can help grow the community and bring young people back home. “We have to have good relationships to bring them in,” he said. “We also need to let young people know we have good housing, good schools, and a good hospital as well as sports facilities.”
Miller notices that Bloomfield has one asset that few talk about — Lake Fisher. He anticipates this asset will be talked about.
Miller is employed by a medical prescription company out of St. Louis, owns Slick’s Bar and Grill, and owns and manages several properties in Bloomfield.
“I’m an energetic young individual,” he said, “and I need Bloomfield to thrive for me to thrive.
“My strong point is communication. I want to open up the lines of communication and get the people of Bloomfield to work together.
Miller said though he wouldn’t have a vote as mayor, he would be there to run the meetings and develop strong relationships with everyone.
“I’ll listen to complaints, act upon those complaints and find resolutions to those complaints. I plan to bring new ideas to the council to help the community,” he said.
Dan Wiegand frequently spends 15-20 hours throughout the week in his role as mayor plus an additional 4-5 hours over weekends.
He attends 90-95% of the numerous meetings on the mayor’s schedule, and frequently “drives the town” with Councilman Darin Garrett to check out streets, storm drains, and various complaints that have come in.
“We also check to see if people have complied (with regulations) following complaints,” he said.
Throughout the work week, Wiegand confers with City Administrator Tomi Jo Day and Development Director Tammy Roberts to follow up on council business.
Wiegand is pleased with the progress that has taken place during his term of office.
He especially mentions the asphalt overlay and sealcoating projects that took place in 2020 as well as the additional 40 blocks of asphalt that will be overlaid this fall and next spring.
“None of that could have been done if we had done the streetscape project,” he said.
“We have also redone 12-13 storm sewer intakes that have needed attention for years,” he said.
Additional intakes are on the docket for 2022.
“The sewer treatment plant is a big accomplishment,” he said. “There is a very small punch list left.”
Wiegand is also pleased that the endangered buildings on the west side of the square have been stabilized by the city and are now back in the hands of private owners who are rehabbing them.
The housing incentive has also gotten off the ground during Wiegand’s tenure as mayor. “Six to eight new houses have been built in Bloomfield in the last 2.5 years,” he said, “and there are four or five more individuals that want to continue with housing construction.”
Wiegand has emphasized code development and enforcement during his term in office. “We are close to having a housing code for new construction and a rental code ready to enforce,” he said.
“Is it 15 years past due? Yes.
“It is designed not to be a burden on anyone, but to make Bloomfield a cleaner, safer, better place to live with a better way of life and improved living conditions.
“This is a unanimous council thing that everyone has been wanting and the council should get credit for all that’s been done.”
“Improvements are generally by unanimous council vote,” he added. “We work together well.”
Mentioning other improvements that have taken place since his election in 2017, Wiegand listed the purchase of new equipment, the installation of electrical poles, cemetery improvements, and cleaning up city property.
“We can’t ask someone to do something we don’t do ourselves,” he said, referring to cleanup efforts.
What does the future hold if Wiegand gets re-elected?
“In 2024 or 2025, Franklin Street will be paid for. That opens up the opportunity for the next big street project, but we may just finish up getting everything overlaid with asphalt or sealcoat. We might possibly consider putting some asphalt over sealcoat,” he said.
Wiegand would like to see improvements around the square — possibly heated sidewalks with pavers and planters, trees, and benches. “The only way to get grants for this is to emphasize stormwater improvements,” he said. “We could also do concrete curbs and gutters and mill down the streets and overlay with asphalt.
“This will be my next goal if re-elected,” he said. “I would like to do sidewalks, curbs and gutters next year. Streets may come the following year.”
In 2023, the DOT will be redoing the sidewalks on the east side of the square and Wiegand says the sidewalks on all four sides of the square must be designed to match.
Wiegand is pleased with the number of new businesses that have sprung up in the downtown during his term — especially in the wake of the pandemic.
“I actually think COVID helped,” he said. “The people who thought outside the box and changed what they were doing to meet the present needs did very well.”
Looking ahead, Wiegand would like to see several multi-family housing units built in Bloomfield and the city and the county working together to purchase property adjoining the industrial park for purposes of expansion.
“We are slowly accomplishing some things,” he said. “DCDC and economic development are working together.
“I’d also like to see Bloomfield Main Street set some reasonable, practical goals and help get that program back on its feet and moving in the right direction. I want to help Main Street succeed,” he said, mentioning his role in selling 50-50 tickets during Hairy Nation Days that benefitted Main Street and Davis County Daycare.
Regarding the closure of the tree dump, Wiegand said the council will hopefully approve opening the facility on a trial basis for the month of October.
The public must abide by the DNR rules — no garbage, tree and yard waste only, and no fires — if the dump is to remain open.
“The tree and yard waste cannot be burnt unattended,” he said, saying the DNR could issue fines.
Wiegand invites Bloomfield residents to call him if they have questions or need help in solving issues. “I have no problem with anybody calling,” he said.
“I feel the last four years have moved Bloomfield in the right direction, and I hope to be able to continue moving it in that direction,” he said.