Two cousins graduating in 1980 with a class of 34 students will be sworn in as the mayor of their town.
Roger McQueen and Jada (McQueen) Hallberg are not only cousins but close friends and say they have the utmost respect for one another. Both grew up on farms south of Farragut and attended Farragut Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. After graduation Hallberg left southwest Iowa to attend college and is currently a financial planner living in Pocohontos, located in northwest Iowa. McQueen moved around after graduation but didn’t get too far from his southwest Iowa roots and now lives in Shenandoah and owns McQueen’s Carpet Cleaning.
Going to school in a small community meant the two cousins did pretty much everything together. So when the 2021 November general elections rolled around, it shouldn’t have been a surprise that both McQueen and Hallberg decided to run as candidates for mayor where they lived.
Hallberg credited McQueen for always having the ability to talk with anyone and be accepted. She said this is a trait she has always admired about him, and he continues to be this way to this day.
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“Roger was always the person who could float from group to group and be well accepted,” said Hallberg. “He was always that person who could be accepted into any circle of friends. In the morning in high school, we would congregate in the concourse at school, and he would float from group to group and talk to different people and do it with ease.”
McQueen saw Hallberg as a person who excelled in everything that she put her mind to and said he has always been proud of her accomplishments.
As the two became adults, they didn’t see each other as often but stayed connected with phone calls, email or through social media. Running for mayor of their towns has given these two cousins a way to reconnect on a closer level again.
McQueen and Hallberg said out of consideration, they both held off on running for mayor until they knew the current mayor of both their towns intended to step down and didn’t plan to run for reelection. Both said the timing was perfect in their lives. As the upcoming mayors of Shenandoah and Pocohontos, the two cousins say the possibilities are endless when it comes to supporting one another in their roles.
Hallberg was finishing up her first term on the Pocohotos City Council and ran uncontested in the mayoral race. McQueen was on his second six-year term as a member of the Park Board in Shenandoah when he announced his candidacy for mayor following the announcement from Mayor Dick Hunt that he did not plan to run again. McQueen felt it was a good time in his life to give back to his community and felt his time on the Shenandoah Park Board, as state president of the Elks Lodge and state trustee of the Elks Lodge for five years had given him experience that would help him in the role as mayor.
Hallberg said she followed the Shenandoah mayoral election closely and became aware of several common issues between the two communities. She is anxious to see what direction Shenandoah takes on some of those issues.
“I think that even though we are a lot smaller community than what Roger’s dealing with, I think we all still have some similar direction and goals,” said Hallberg. “I do anticipate staying in touch and asking for advice or input on what he sees working or directions that work for him.”
Hallberg said she would welcome McQueen’s input and closely listen because she respects his opinion.
“I’m very excited for the next few years for both of us, for both our communities,” said Hallberg. “I think it’s going to be a great tenure for both of us, and we’re going to learn a lot, and I can’t wait to get started.”
McQueen has already prioritized opening up communication and working with other city leaders and officials and plans to keep the communication open between himself and Hallberg during their tenure as mayor. As does Hallberg, he feels the two will be able to help each other and bounce ideas off one another.
“I’m very proud that we’ve done this,” said McQueen. “I’m very happy for her.”
McQueen said he and Hallburg share the same strong values. He said they both want to serve their communities and continue to help the communities flourish and grow.
Life may have taken the two cousins growing up on farms in southwest Iowa on different paths, but life has brought them closer together again.