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The man running for mayor
by Jacob Lane · October 30, 2013


He's been on the West Liberty city council for 7 years. As his final term comes to an end, Robert Hartman has decided not to run for his council seat, he's got a little more on his mind this time.

Council Member Hartman is running for Mayor of West Liberty during the Nov. 4 election. Months ago current Mayor Chad Thomas announced he will not seek re-election, leaving the position open for another community member.

Accordingly, Hartman answered the call. As mayor pro-tem for the last two years, he's already garnered some experience in the position. When Mayor Thomas was absent from council meetings in the past, he ran them.

He's also the only candidate whose name will appear on the ballot. As of Oct. 21 the Index has yet to hear of any possible write-in campaigns for mayor.

But that doesn't mean Hartman is unprepared. With several years with the city under his belt Hartman feels now's the time to run for Mayor.

"I want all residents to know that I will continue to work for the best interest of the city and the residents," he said, "I will do my best in guiding the council in the same direction."

Hartman originally joined the council when Marv Dalton's seat became available after he only served for one year. Hartman ran for and won the seat in a special election.

"I have served with many great individuals on the council. They all have their own perspectives and personalities," he said. "I've also served on many committees and have been involved in many strategic planning sessions."

Hartman is married to Marla Hartman. He has two sons, Matthew, 22, and Michael, 14, and two daughters, Becky, 20, and Kaylee, 16. His children have either graduated or are attending West Liberty schools, and his family has been in town for over twenty years.

He first arrived in West Liberty when he was hired on as a police officer on the force. Enjoying the city so much, Hartman decided to plant his roots here.

Hartman is currently a detective for Iowa City, he's been a police officer with the city for the last 11 years.

"Being a police officer has assisted me in working with complex issues and finding solutions," he said. "My goal is to find a solution which has a “win-win” solution for all parties. This is not always possible, but it is my goal."

One issue Hartman would like to focus on is the overall perception of West Liberty. He believes it's a great community; however, a negative and unjust view persists outside of the town.

"West Liberty is a community full of wonderful people and culture. I believe the strengths of the city are the activities afforded to the residents and the kindness of the people."

However, he's getting ready for a difficult budgeting period. Hartman says West Liberty's budget will be affected by a rollback of commercial property taxes, which includes apartment buildings.

While the state has promised some funding, that will only last for a few years. He'll ask department heads to evaluate their individual budgets as one of a few solutions.

"I hear individuals talk about government money like it's an endless source and not real money. The city's budget operates differently than the state or the federal government, but it's somebody's money," he said. "We need to make sure we are getting the most of out of it."

When it comes to recycling, Hartman is leaning towards a curbside recycling solution.

"I have listened to many residents about this issue and the majority of people want curbside recycling. I have thought long and hard about several options. The curbside recycling has the most benefits."

According to Hartman those benefits include eliminating unwanted dumping. However, the downside is that residents will have to pay for the service whether they want to use it or not.

Finally, Hartman would like to see downtown West Liberty improved.

"I would like to see if We Lead, other organizations and residents have ideas and solutions. The council has been open to ideas on this matter," he said.

The election is Nov. 4 in the Activity Center in the Muscatine County Faigrounds.

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