There will be several candidates on the ballot in November, running to be the next mayor of Shenandoah, and Jeff Hiser will be among them.
Hiser is a graduate of Shenandoah High School and went on to Northwest Missouri State University and the University of Northern Iowa to obtain degrees in elementary education, elementary and secondary education administration and complete his specialist degree and a doctoral program in education leadership.
He has raised a family in Shenandoah and has served the city in a variety of ways for 35 years. Not new to public office, he was elected to the Shenandoah School Board from 1985-91, and again from 2019 to the present, he also served as mayor and as a city council member of Shenandoah. He represented the community as a former SCIA Board Member and President.
Hiser spent 28 years in public education as a teacher, principal and as a superintendent of schools. During that time, he was also active with the School Administrators of Iowa where he served as president for a period of time.
In his free time, he said, “I enjoy golfing, bowling, singing with the praise team and choir, acting and directing with the community theater.” He is involved in the Southwest Iowa Theatre Group and has served as a board member, secretary, vice president and president. Hiser is a member of the First United Methodist Church and serves on the administrative council.
Hiser said he believes that there are many positives of Shenandoah, “The positives are the community members who volunteer with events in the community, our beautiful downtown, our school system and hospital, Pella, Green Plains. It’s also the individuals who have invested in the community by opening and operating businesses in our community and the many organizations that work to improve our community.”
When asked what Shenandoah needs to work on, Hiser said the enforcement of city ordinances is a pressing issue, and ordinances need to be applied the same for all people. “We need to get them updated and posted online so the public has access. We also need to work on our infrastructure by having short-term and long-term goals that are reviewed annually. We have a lack of housing which has been detrimental to attracting new business, and also we need more transparency within the city government.” He added, “With all this said, a person doesn’t just come in and start making changes because they are new to the position. I will need to observe to see what is working well and what we can do better.”
Hiser’s vision for Shenandoah in the next 10-20 years is to see our community grow in population and businesses. He wants to make Shenandoah a place where people want to live and raise a family. “I want to see empty buildings being occupied again and when you drive through town I want you to see cars on the main streets and people supporting local businesses.”
Hiser feels his experience in city government and the school board and his background in administration, budgeting and budget development will be his strength as mayor of Shenandoah. “I also have experience in leadership, policy development and
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implementation, community relations, organizational management, and human resource management.”
But Hiser sees one of the biggest challenges will be getting people of the community to believe in our city government again so we can all work together and not against each other. “In addition, I also see the lack of housing hurting in the recruitment of new businesses, and the challenge of continuing to make improvements to our community without continually having to increase taxes and pushing the financial burden onto the people of the community.”
Hiser wants to involve residents in the decision-making process. “My door would always be open, and I will listen to the public. We, meaning the people of the community, may not agree all the time but one thing is for sure they will know where I stand on an issue, and I won’t be straddling the fence nor be pressured into making decisions that are not in the best interest of our community and our community members. Secondly, I think having quarterly town hall meetings with the public and listening to concerns, the positives, and letting people know what the city is facing or about a decision that needs to be made in the future is important. I also want the public to feel like they are wanted at a council meeting and able to speak freely without feeling like they may be looked upon negatively for speaking out. The council should also feel comfortable asking questions at their meetings so there is more transparency on the actions being taken by the council. Finally, a mayor needs to be visiting with people in the community whether at the grocery store or an event. Building relationships is vital in not only decision-making but also in developing trust.”
Hiser concluded he believes in this community and has served this community for over 35 years, “I raised my family here and have never forgotten where I came from. I am no better than the person standing next to me, and I will represent all the people.”
(Liz Skillern is a former teacher with the Shenandoah Community School District retiring in 2021 after 24 years.)