Within the first 24 hours after Election Day, Mayor Dean Soash took some time to reflect on his loss to challenger Adam Hoffman.
While talking with City Clerk Carla Guyer, he heard a revelation that he felt must be expressed to the public. During 2019, the Waverly City Council had one of the most productive years in city history.
He wrote a letter to the editor — which was published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Bremer County Independent — thanking his supporters and then relayed that as of Oct. 21, the council had passed 183 resolutions and ordinances and was on pace to get to 200 by the end of the year.
“She had volunteered that information,” Soash told Waverly Newspapers in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon. “I didn’t specifically ask for it. We were chatting about something… and she just volunteered that we had already passed 183 resolutions…
“We almost (passed 200) at the last council meeting, when there were several there. It was meant as a compliment to the council on what they did, not what I did, by any means.”
He placed all of the credit to the City Council members for the work that they’ve done.
“All I did was led the council,” he said. “They made the decisions.
“As I have told people, and a couple of council people and I have talked about this, I can’t remember of a council meeting that there was a discussion that was not civil. There was no antics, there was no raising voices. There was no whatever you want to call it. This has been an absolute joy to work with this council, because they have been receptive to — not my ideas — but to the business of the city. They’ve accomplished an awful lot.”
He said there have been “so many” decisions made by the council that could be considered significant.
“We updated the policies and procedures of the mayor and council, obviously the termination of Champions Ridge — and that was done in essence at the March 18 meeting, not when I made the statement (on July 1),” Soash recalled. “We voted during 2019 to get the construction of Cedar Lane done. I guess some of the two or three that stand out.
“It’s just the fact that Waverly has been able to move forward with projects, even though there are some who think that our debt capacity is… We’ve been able to do projects without exceeding our debt capacity.”
However, some of the decisions made by the council over the last two years may have rubbed many voters the wrong way in the Nov. 5 election. Soash and two incumbent council members were voted out of office in tight races.
Hoffman, a pre-planning agent for a Grundy Center-based funeral home, outlasted Soash, a retired electrician, in the mayoral race, 1,398-1,249, a margin of 5.6 percentage points or 149 votes. Meanwhile, the at-large race was a bit closer, as Matt Schneider, the owner of Neighborhood Home and founder of Keep Waverly Moving, defeated Councilwoman Edith Waldstein, a Wartburg College vice president of admissions, 1,342-1,290, just 52 votes or less than a 2% margin.
In Ward 4, Heather Beaufore, a nurse and educator with the Waterloo Community Schools, won over Councilman Mike Sherer, a retired journalist, 302-253. The only open race, in Ward 2, had the widest margin, as Kris Glaser, a Cedar Valley Hospice executive, held off Mike Hangartner, a production line worker, 361-252, to take over after Dan McKenzie decided not to run for another term.
Combining the results of this year’s election and the one from 2017, the Waverly City Council has had a near total turnover over the last four years. Only Ward 5 Councilman Tim Kangas has remained on the dais during that time, with the mayor’s seat being changed twice — Soash defeated former mayor Chuck Infelt in a runoff in December 2017 following a write-in campaign on Election Day.
Soash said that Hoffman is going to have to learn the ins and outs of governance like he did on the job.
“He’s going to need to conduct meetings as they need to be conducted,” the outgoing mayor said. “That’s basically it. I’m not planning to interfere in what goes on in city government.”
He said proud of everything he helped the city facilitate over the last two years.
“Right now, the fact that we have youth ball diamonds well on the way to fruition,” Soash said, “and that once those are done — and it won’t be in my tenure — the adult softball diamonds are going to be looked at.
“They’ve already been discussed. It isn’t like some of the editorials that [Waverly Newspapers] have published from various ones that say, ‘Oh, my gosh, this group forgot all about the adults.’ Well, that’s not true.”
Soash can’t point to a single issue that may have swayed the election away from him and the other incumbents.
“The voters have spoken, and that’s really all (I would say),” he said. “If I would tip it to anything, it’s a spillover from the mess that’s going on in Washington, D.C. It just a chance for a group of citizens to protest. It trickled down from national to local politics.”
He did observe while watching the results from other races around the Waterloo-Cedar Rapids media market flash on TV, there was an anti-incumbent slant to this off-year vote.
“As watched the ticker scroll across the bottom of the TV screen, virtually anyone that had an ‘I’ in front of or behind their name for incumbent was gone,” he said. “It didn’t make any difference whether it was mayor, dog catcher, councilman or whatever the position was, they were gone.”
Soash said he’s going to miss working with the city staff, led by City Administrator James Bronner.
“Carla and (deputy clerk Valerie Northrup) and James and (Leisure Services Director Garret Riordan), the whole group has been absolute joy to work with,” he said. “From the council and city staff, it’s been a great experience. I made a statement some place, it’s been a great ride. I wouldn’t have said that if there had been some problems.”