Race for Quincy mayor underway
Campaign signs have appeared around town, and ballots will very soon appear in voters’ mailboxes – it is an election year after all. At the end of it, Quincy will have chosen a new mayor because the incumbent, Jim Hemberry, is not running.
Voters get to choose a mayor from among four candidates – more than usually toss their names in the hat for the chance to lead the city government, according to both the current mayor and the previous one.
The Quincy Valley Post-Register asked the four candidates to supply introductory information for voters, and their responses are on the facing page.
Ballots will be mailed on the date of this publication, July 13, said Michele Blondin, an election administrator for Grant County. The schedule leaves voters about two weeks to decide, fill out their ballots and turn them in. A ballot can be turned in the same day it is received, Blondin explained. In fact, the county elections workers like to receive ballots early, rather than a pile at the end, Aug. 1, she said.
The race for mayor is on the primary ballot because more than two candidates are running. The top two vote-getters in the primary will move on to the general election.
One other local office is contested, a seat on the city council, with two candidates. The Post-Register will have more information on those candidates in a future edition.
At the close of this year, Mayor Hemberry will have served 10 and a half years as mayor. Initially he was appointed to the office, and before that served on the City Council for 10 years.
He ran for mayor in 2009 and 2013, and he said both times there was one other candidate. The high number of candidates this time is somewhat unusual, he said, perhaps because he is not running.
“Sometimes when there is not an incumbent, it’s wide open,” Hemberry said.
He had several reasons for not running for re-election.
“It’s a high-stress job, and I am not getting any younger,” he said. After 20 years in local government, “I feel I have served my community.”
Now 66, he and his wife like to travel. He said he does not have aspirations for another political office.
Reflecting on the role of mayor, Hemberry said, it’s about leadership.
“One of the things I think people don’t think about – you are going to go from being a resident of the community to the CEO of a multi-million dollar business with over 50 employees and over 7,000 residents counting on you.”
The next mayor will have ongoing projects to pick up on, too. By Hemberry’s estimation, the large, ongoing projects will be the water reuse utility, the city hall project, the public safety facility project on the north side, the recreation center project and the intersection of State Route 28 and 13th Avenue SW.
The mayor before Hemberry was Dick Zimbelman. He served as mayor for 10 years, and, now at 80 years of age, he keeps informed about city government and volunteers on the committee that takes care of the landscaping along the highways in town.
It is unusual for four candidates to be in the race. The first time he ran, there were three candidates, and two otherwise, he said.
Times have changed for Quincy. He recalled that when he was mayor, there was very little money to work with. He said that meant learning to spend wisely and say no to requests for funding.
“Now it is hard to say no. It used to be hard to say yes,” because there wasn’t the money in the budget, he recalled. “Everyone has their pet project, and you can’t fund them all, and they aren’t all good projects.”
Something that has not changed is that the mayor’s role is important and demanding.
“When you become mayor, it is a different world,” Zimbelman said.
The mayor has to make a lot of decisions, there is a lot riding on them, and legal matters come into play.
“Sometimes you have to carry out things you don’t like,” Zimbelman said.
Ultimately, the council sets the rules and regulations and the mayor has to enforce them, he said.
To count, ballots must be received in the Grant County election office or in a ballot box by 8 p.m., Aug. 1, or be postmarked by Aug. 1.
An Aug. 1 postmark is OK, if the ballot arrives by mail at the county before the election certification date – 10 days later. Dropping it in a post office slot doesn’t guarantee the postmark will be done in time – for that, the ballot could be taken in person to the post office counter.
There are five ballot drop boxes. The closest one is in the Quincy public library.
By Dave Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org