ST. ANSGAR | For newly elected St. Ansgar Mayor Norman Johnson, the decision to run came after being encouraged by family, friends and community members to throw his name into the hat.
The retired businessman, who operated Paradise Pizza for 22 years and spent 35 years in the insurance industry, including 21 years as the manager of Farmers Mutual and Town and Country Insurance in Osage, comes with much sales and management experience.
“Now that I’m retired I have the time,” Johnson said. “I know there are things that need to be addressed and there are issues I felt were important. Drive around town, you’ll see all the work being done.
“One issue we have is an infrastructure issue with our water. Our plant can’t handle the output that is being generated. We need to have a long-term plan and execute it as fiscally responsible as possible.”
Johnson cited another issue being communication.
“People don’t know what’s going on and why,” he said. “We used to have a live stream going but we’ve sort of moved away from that. I want to see if we can get one implemented again because that is one way we can get information out, so people can see what’s going on.”
Over the past few weeks, the city of St. Ansgar has experienced broken gas lines, causing homes to be evacuated, and broken water lines, in addition, the interruption of fiber optics, when a line was broken. The damage, which was caused by crews boring to put in lines, has caused interruptions and inconveniences to many in the community.
Despite the challenges, Johnson had praise for the workers tasked with restoring services.
“The city crew did a good job of getting everything back up and running,” Johnson said.
Having never held a public office, Johnson said he plans to attend some instructional classes which are being held for Iowa municipalities, to help educate their newly elected public officials in understanding the policy and procedures which go along with their offices.
“Last night, I was down in Des Moines at the Reagan Dinner, and I had the opportunity to meet with Governor Reynolds and state auditor Mary Mosiman,” Johnson said. “It’s important to have contacts wherever you can. Some things mentioned were interesting. There are things out there to help small communities.”
Another concern of Johnson’s is the roads in St. Ansgar.
“We keep raising everything up,” Johnson said. “There is a project they’ve been working on - water and sewer. I’m not sure what the holdups are, but it’s been over a year. It’s frustrating to our citizens to see in our community.
“In looking at this election, none of the incumbents were re-elected. That tells me the community wants change. We talked about what we wanted to get done, now we need to get it done. We need to do what we said we would do to the best of our ability. That’s what I will try to do.”
After years in the business world, spent working with boards, one of the many things Johnson said he learned was to how important the sharing of ideas was to the growth of a company, something he also feels can be applied to the growth of a community.
“In business, working with boards, everyone had the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas and nothing was taken personally,” Johnson said. “You can’t bully your ideas through. You have to be willing to listen and do what is best for the community and be open to suggestions from the council and the members of the community. You’ve got to keep a level head about things.”
Johnson, along with newly elected city councilmen Mike Juhl and Ben Walk will take office on January 1, 2018.
“The present council and mayor have done the best they could and we in the community need to thank them for their service,” Johnson said. “Our job will be to give the citizens the changes they are asking for.
“I know each of us has ideas and things we’d like to see done. I’d like to thank all of my supporters. I will do my best for the future of our city.”