Let's just catch our breath for a moment in this year's city election campaigns and remember one from a decade ago.

In 2003, a special election was held to pick a successor to Mayor Bill Schickel, who had been elected to the Iowa Legislature.

It was a time of great excitement and enthusiasm in city politics -- and the campaign and election that year are memorable for a number of reasons.

For one thing, there were 10 candidates. The Globe Gazette described the political climate as one of "no pulpit-pounding or God-fearing oratory, no personal attacks, no flashy advertising blitzes."

A favorite riddle at coffee shops and service clubs was: Can you name all the candidates for mayor? You won if you could name: Jean Marinos, John Jaszewski, Richard Dedor, Troy Levenhagen, Rob Grayson, Jim Paulsen Sr., Richard Paulsen II, Clarence Slife, Kevin Smith and Gene Smail.

It was generally assumed that with that many candidates a runoff was assured, because no candidate was expected to get more than 50 percent of the vote as required to be elected. But Marinos got 56 percent to become the city's first woman mayor.

Dedor was a North Iowa Area Community College student who turned 19 about a month before the election and was planning to continue his education at the University of Northern Iowa. He promised to arrange his college schedule so it would not interfere with his duties as mayor if elected. He finished third -- a distant third, but third nonetheless. Jaszewski finished second.

Another unusual twist in that year's campaign is that two of the candidates were related. James Paulsen Sr., who is still a city bus driver, is the uncle of Richard Paulsen II.

Among the issues that year were the cost of the Northbridge project, taxes, and, brace yourself, talk of a downtown multipurpose center.

Another of the candidates that year was Gene Smail, who is no longer with us. Gene openly admitted to having some mental issues for which he was being treated and he was a passionate advocate for the mentally ill.

Gene was a likeable fellow, particularly because he recognized his weaknesses and sought to overcome them. He was running for mayor out of his desire to make a difference.

About a week before the election, a candidate forum was held that all 10 candidates attended. At the end of it, each candidate was permitted to give a closing statement. This is the moment in which candidates make their last pitch to the voters.

When Gene's turn came, he said with all sincerity, "I've listened to what everyone had to say tonight -- and I've decided I'm voting for John Jaszewski.

Reach John Skipper at john.skipper@globegazette.com.

(15) comments

Jake7777
Jake7777

Make chaos the bedrock of city policy. VOTE FOR MAX!!!!!!

servantez55
servantez55

I remember that, it was great to hear all 10 of them with their ideas, and their personalities. This is the way all elections should be held. I think the citizens deserve this on this election, The Globe has been great in support on the past elections. I feel the Globe should have the same on this election. There is plenty of time to get this going. I only hope this happens, for the sake of all the candidates and the citizens of Mason City. Good luck to all the candidates.

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

Of the 10 people who've been Mayor since 1969 (the year Mayor Mendon lost re-election) 5 (George Mendon, Karl Johanssen, Ken Kew, Stan Romans, and Carl Miller) were defeated, and one (Tom Jolas) resigned. Romans's '89 defeat merits a column, as it led directly to MC's run-off provision in city elections. With no interruption, for 49 straight years (beginning in 1954) every Mason City mayor in office from then until 2003 either beat an incumbent and/or lost as one. Mendon may have also beat Bruce

rivercityfan
rivercityfan

Are you trying to scare us and say odds are Max will win?! MC & N Iowa (MC is the county seat. What happens there has rippling effect on CG county +) is in HUGE trouble if he does. He'd chase all job prospects out of town and MC would look like the N End.

gonefishing
gonefishing

Todd I am not insulting you on this statement of yours, but as I read your post I am confused by your statement of "With no interruption, for 49 straight years (beginning in 1954) every Mason City mayor in office from then until 2003 either beat an incumbent and/or lost as one."


Again, not being demeaning to you, but is this not what normally happens in every election?


Just asking, Todd!

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

Cont'd - In reply to 'Gone Fishing': No, incumbent mayors aren't defeated in every election, and mayors are sometimes elected (as were Mayors Merinos, Bang, and Bookmeyer, among others) in elections where no incumbent is/was running. I'd like to learn if Mayor Bruce was ousted by George Mendon. In any case, Mason City's mayoral elections have produced some unique results, given what occurred in the elections of the 10 people who served as Mayor between 1954 and '03, and perhaps even prior to '54

gonefishing
gonefishing

Todd, I reread your post and maybe I misread it! Are you saying that no MC mayor until 2003 ever held office more than one term?

rivercityfan
rivercityfan

Gene..a likeable guy even as off the wall as he was. He had a kind heart & was more intelligent than one would 1st think. Unlike some of the candidates running. The new ones couldn't run a chicken ranch much less a city. Being mayor/ council member is more than banging the gavel & doing favors for your cohorts or just saving poor people tax money. It's being able to keep a city thriving. I think the present mayor/ council have done a good job of improving MC.

rivercityfan
rivercityfan

Those screaming "we want jobs" are mostly high school flunkies that want a factory job at $30/hr.. They think city leaders can just go out and tell some company to come to MC and they'll come. They don't have a clue as to what it takes to entice a company to build here. They don't want to improve their skills nor get the education it takes these days to work in the type of jobs they're seeking. They're living in the 50's-70's.

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

'river', Iowa is ranked near the bottom (40th out of 50) among the states which shake down corporations, which makes businesses with high-paying jobs go elsewhere. Iowa also has a state income tax (unlike TX, FL, AK, NV, WA, SD, WY, etc.), and we've not abolished our state's corporate income tax - which SD, WY, NV, and WY have. Our sales tax should also be eliminated. When MT, NH, and DE abolished sales taxes, unemployment declined. Mason City suffers tremendously under Iowa's repellent taxes.

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

No problem, 'Gone Fishing'! Every MC Mayor who served between 1954 (and maybe even earlier, if George Mendon defeated Mayor Bruce) and 2003 had either beaten an incumbent and/or lost as one. Mayors Jolas, Kew, Romans, and Schickel all beat incumbents, and Mendon, Johannsen, Kew, Miller, and Romans all LOST as incumbents. Mendon, Kew, and Schickel were re-elected. Jolas would've won again, but he resigned in 1973, with Karl Johannsen taking over, and then losing to Ken Kew. That was my point.

gonefishing
gonefishing

Todd, thanks for the exclamation!

gonefishing
gonefishing

Sorry Todd, I meant explanation not exclamation!

Austin50428
Austin50428

What was the reason for Tom Jolas' resignation?

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

'Austin', Tom resigned in 1973 (January, I think) as he had some business opportunities - including a beer distributorship - he chose to pursue. He also put his law degree to work as a consultant on several MC projects, and wanted to spend more time with his family. His then-wife, Kalliope, was/is a good friend of my mom's, and I was over at the Jolas residence (Mrs. Jolas helped me with my math, as a volunteer tutor) when the afternoon Globe-Gazette arrived there, with his resignation on Page 1.

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