Newly-elected mayor Bill Schickel, his wife, Candi, and
daughter, Amanda, celebrate his victory Tuesday night with ice
MASON CITY | Newly-elected Mayor Bill Schickel thinks he developed his interest in public service when, as a child, he sat at the dinner table with his 10 brothers and sisters in Loveland, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.
"There were 13 of us, counting Mom and Dad, and some of my fondest memories are those dinner table conversations," said Schickel. "It was a big table," he said with a laugh.
"Dad wanted us to have well-articulated positions on things — well thought out and well said."
He wasn't the only Schickel who got the political vibe from those family conversations. His brother John is a state senator in Kentucky. His brother Joe is a former city councilman in Loveland. His sister, Anna, is married to Bill Haine, a state senator in Illinois.
Schickel, 66, who was elected to his fourth, non-consecutive term as mayor Tuesday, had no trouble identifying what his major goal will be when he takes office in January.
"The River City Renaissance project," he said without hesitation. "We have to see that through."
Schickel said the "Mason City Says Yes" committee did a great job of organizing support for the two ballot issues that were approved, and showed what can happen when the community comes together.
Schickel said many things have changed since he was first elected mayor in 1989. "The media landscape has totally changed. The internet didn't exist. There was no social media. All of that has changed the political dynamic.
"One thing that hasn't changed is the number of good people who want to help get things done. We can accomplish a lot by working together. I'm excited about that," he said.
Schickel grew up in Loveland and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in broadcasting and journalism.
He said his first knowledge of Mason City came as a youth when his father, a stained-glass artist, had an exhibit at the MacNider Art Museum.
Schickel came to North Iowa and became the Clear Lake reporter for the Globe Gazette in 1978. He began work at KIMT-TV in 1980 and worked there for nine years, including time as the noon anchor, when he resigned to run for mayor.
He defeated incumbent mayor Stan Romans and served four years when his political career came to an abrupt but temporary halt. The City Council decided to change the mayoral position from full-time to part-time — and did it by cutting the salary by about $25,000. Schickel, with a wife and young family, chose not to run again.
During his hiatus from city politics, he experienced his only loss for public office. Schickel, a Democrat at the time, switched to the Republican party and ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Democrat Dennis May for the state Legislature in 1994.
Three years later, he had a full-time job as general manager of KCMR radio and had the station's permission for him to enter the political ring again. In 1997, he ran for mayor and once again defeated an incumbent, Carl Miller, and was re-elected in 2001.
Not long into that term, he resigned to run for the state Legislature and served three terms before retiring. He also held several positions in the state Republican Party.
In 2015, he returned to city politics, winning election to the City Council to fill a vacancy created when At-Large Councilman Scott Tornquist moved out of state.
Earlier this year, he decided to make another run for mayor. His motivation was simple, he said. "I love the job."
He said he is committed to communicating with the public as best he can. He plans to have regularly-scheduled press conferences, regular office hours in which he will encourage the public to drop in and will attend as many public functions as his schedule will allow.
Schickel and his wife Candi, a Mason City attorney, have three grown children.
He and Candi met when both were attending an exercise class at the old YMCA. "We met when we literally bumped into each other on the gym floor," Schickel said.
They have been married for 31 years.