Don DeWaard is running for mayor in the upcoming Pella City Council election against Bruce Schiebout.
Full interview with Don:
Written Responses from the PACE Alliance City Council Candidate Forum:
1. What is the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the City of Pella? What unique experience would you personally bring as a City Councilor to help address the challenge and opportunity that you identified?
“The biggest challenge is twofold, lack of workforce to fill all of the jobs and lack of workforce housing. The biggest opportunity is tied to the biggest challenge. If the challenge can be met it will open up many opportunities for economic growth in Pella. I bring a long history of experience working with business in Pella through practicing as a CPA for years and also being involved in several real estate developments.”
2. Whether earned or unearned, Pella has a reputation for not always being business friendly (e.g., difficult to open or expand a business, restrictive regulations, lengthy approval process, etc.). What role should the City Council play in helping the community overcome that perception? As a City Councilor what is your vision for encouraging our existing businesses and corporations to expand in or attracting new businesses to Pella?
“When I hear that statement I cringe, because that is not the reputation we want as a City and I want to know how Pella has gotten that reputation. The Mayor and City Council should be leaders to the business community making sure that business knows that City Government is on their side. My vision for the future is for the City to use the many tools available to it, to encourage, assist and promote business expansion in Pella.”
3. In thinking about your role as a City Councilor, how can the business and corporate community support you in your role on the City Council?
“As Mayor I would have an open door and encourage any business that has issues or ideas about growth, to present it to me. I will commit to listen and act accordingly.”
4. Generally speaking, do you view population growth as a good thing for Pella? As a City Councilor, how would you work to support efforts to grow Pella’s population?
“I view population growth as not only a positive but a necessity. Any community that isn’t growing is probably in trouble moving into the future. Population growth is tied to the challenge discussed in question 1. As City government we must participate in providing housing for all income levels to promote population growth.”
5. Workforce Availability is the biggest challenge for our business and corporate community should the City Council play in attracting new workers and retaining them once they are here?
“The best way for the City to help attract new workers is to work with current and potential business to make it easier for business to expand or come to Pella. They are the job creators so the City’s role is to work with them. Providing community amenities is also important is attracting and retaining workers.”
6. Think specifically about the recruitment and retention of young professionals (e.g. Millennials and GenZ). Research indicates that young professionals are choosing communities they want to live in based on affordability and quality-of-life factors such as recreation, robust restaurant and social or cultural attractions. As a City Councilor, how will you work to support the efforts of the City and the business and corporate community to attract and retain young professionals?
“I think the affordability of housing issue has already been discussed. There are already studies being done to expand recreation, social and cultural attractions and as Mayor I would support the ideas that have been brought forward and would work to make sure the City is doing what it can to make those ideas happen.”
7. One issue of importance to young professionals with children is having access to quality and affordable childcare. The Marion County Childcare Needs Analysis released in March 2019 found that 61% of parents in the community had difficulty finding childcare. Given the results of the Analysis, what role would you play as a City Councilor in assisting the City with the need for childcare capacity for the community?
“The childcare issue is a very real and complex problem. I know that a group is working to find a workable solution. I think is important to let that group finish their work and if they come up with a workable solution the City should participate where needed.”