Paul Adams

At-large City Council winner Paul Adams hugs his wife Emily as the final results come in his favor for the vacant seat Tuesday at the Cerro Gordo County Courthouse in Mason City.

MASON CITY — Paul Adams, a 33-year-old employee of Principal Financial, was elected to an at-large seat on the City Council Tuesday night, easily defeating challenger Andy O'Brien.

Both were seeking public office for the first time, running to fill the seat left open by the death of Alex Kuhn in July.

Complete but unofficial totals show Adams with 2,051 votes, 70.5 percent, to O'Brien's 847, 29.1 percent. There were 11 write-ins.

A total of 3,142 voters took part, 15.7 percent of the city's 20,022 registered voters.

"I'm thrilled," said Adams, who paced the floor at the courthouse as he and his wife, Emily, waited as vote totals came in to the auditor's office.

He said he was gratified by receiving 70 percent of the vote and said it indicated the excitement people felt in his campaign.

Not long after the final result was known, Adams received a congratulatory call from O'Brien.

"I want to thank Andy O'Brien for running a great campaign and being the class individual that he is," said Adams.

After the results were in, O'Brien said, "It's a good night for Mason City. Paul worked hard and deserved to win. He's a good man. This community needs his support and that will start with me."

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O'Brien and Adams emerged from a field of eight candidates, finishing first and second respectively, in a special election Sept. 20 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Alex Kuhn on July 15.

Other candidates were Max Weaver, Jacob Krueger, Jeff Christie, Joshua Masson, Scott Peterson and John Carden. No one received the required 50-percent-plus-one of the vote, prompting Tuesday's runoff between the top two.

Both ran positive campaigns, pledging to move Mason City forward but from different approaches.

Adams, a native of Rockwell who has lived in Mason City for about four years, works as a senior client associate for Principal Financial.

O'Brien, 47, is owner and chief executive officer of Action Coach of North Iowa.

The candidates agreed on carrying on the momentum of moving the city forward but disagreed on ways of achieving it.

Adams believes tax increment financing should be directed toward blighted areas on the north and south ends. O'Brien favored a targeted approach but not restricted to specific areas.

Adams favors getting the public more involved in deciding major economic development issues. O'Brien believed state and private resources should be utilized whenever possible rather than relying on local taxes.

On the proposed Prestage pork plant, Adams was emphatic. He said he would have voted against it because he thought it was a bad fit for the city. O'Brien favored moving the process forward to see if differences could be worked out.

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