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Emmetsburg Candidates State Their Views

By Staff | Nov 3, 2011

City Elections are Tuesday, Nov. 8. The polls are open from 12 noon until 8 p.m. On the ballot for Emmetsburg, incumbent Mayor John Schad is challenged by Myrna Heddinger; and, City Council-at-Large incumbent Sandy Pelzer is being challenged by Bill Burdick, Jr. Tony Kauten, incumbent from Ward 2, is running unopposed. Corey Gramowski, incumbent from Ward 4, is also running unopposed.


John Schad is seeking re-election to the office of Mayor. He was elected Mayor in 2007.

John is President of Smarts Broadcast Systems. He and his wife, Jan, are parents of Johnny, Jeanne and Peggy.

He served as Ward 2 City Councilman during the 1980s and was President of the Industrial Board during acquisition of Poet and Wild Rose Casino. He is a member of Holy Family Parish and founder of Smarts Broadcast Systems. Honors include:?Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year 2007; St. Pat’s Honorary Irishman.

Why are you running for Mayor of Emmetsburg?

Quite simply the job isn’t finished, especially in community development. We are particularly deficient in our ability to market our town, and that is creating issues with industrial and commercial business acquisition. Without new business and industry, we lack jobs, and the lack of jobs is draining our town of young people that we have paid dearly to educate here. We have the infrastructure, including our industrial park, but it sits empty because nobody is selling business and industry on the idea of locating there. We need to wake up our city officials and tell them to set realistic goals, goals for population, goals for retail sales, goals for how many new businesses and industry we intend to have in this town this year, next year, and five years from now. We need to be sure our school system has sufficient children to continue operation. This year, they are down $150,000 because they slipped by 26 students over the year before. No entity succeeds when it is just drifting. We need to know where we are going. I can provide the leadership to get those goals established and get the town moving to where we would like to be.

Each of you has served as Mayor. What do you view as your major accomplishments during your term of office?

Three things come to mind:

Despite recently published claims to the contrary, Emmetsburg citizens were virtually muzzled when they attended a council or committee meeting. Unless you were specifically on the agenda, you could listen but could not volunteer information that might be of considerable help. I changed the council meeting policy immediately upon taking office, and recently managed to push through a similar change for committee meetings. Now every agenda makes it clear- you may participate in the meeting.

I broke a 3-3 tie vote to make a 4-3 vote to implement a code of conduct for our city officials. We’re still working on it but in the meantime did pass a code recommended by the state. Now city officials, including the mayor and council, are held responsible for their actions.

The community garden is an accomplishment that shows how the citizens of our town can work together for the common good. We have had three seasons now with a full house, 100 plots growing and producing food for many families. The city’s involvement has been minimal, but as mayor much of the organization has fallen on my shoulders. I’m very happy to see that it is a success.

Can you create an atmosphere that unites city council, city employees and the community to move Emmetsburg in a favorable direction?

The short answer is yes, I can move the city in a favorable direction. Doing that with a united council and city is difficult because it requires agreement of everybody involved, not just the mayor. The reason we have a mayor – council form of government is so that differing viewpoints can be presented. The differing viewpoints often require discussion in the form of civil discourse. Civil discourse is a kind of conflict, and sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. Far from being a problem, discourse is an agent of change, and change is the vehicle to make a better city. We should not set a goal of uniting the council. We rather should set the real goal of moving Emmetsburg forward, using all available political tools, including discourse, in the areas where we are not unified. Then with mayoral leadership, we can pull in the same direction. Just as we have come to expect conflict between teams on the high school football field, so we should expect a certain amount of conflict in city hall. Our focus needs to be on jobs, population growth, economic growth and other serious city matters, not the occasional raised voice in the council chambers.


Myrna and Dutch Heddinger have been married for 52 years. They have six children:?Debra of Omaha, John (Jeri)?of Emmetsburg, Kenneth (Diane) of Kearney, NE, Pat (Kim) of Ayrshire, Joni (Steve) of Emmetsburg and Judi (A.J.) of Mallard. They hare grand-parents of 11 grandchildren and one great grandson.

Myrna volunteers at the Welcome Center, St. Pat’s Gift Shop, and Bible Study at the E.C.C. She is a resident advocate for Lakeside Lutheran, music organizer for Holy Family Parish and a member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas.

Why are you running for Mayor of Emmetsburg?

My becoming a candidate for Mayor of Emmetsburg had been on my mind for some time and all it took was a little nudge to decide to become a candidate for this office. I enjoyed all aspects being Mayor during my tenure. As with all things, there were some bumps in the road, but the progress made towards a better place to live and the interaction with the citizens of Emmetsburg made it all worthwhile.

The need to let yourself be seen in public is important so people know you are there and can be talked to and not just someone they feel is unapproachable.

Emmetsburg has so much to offer and I want us to have positive thoughts, ambitions and enthusiasm in all we do. This is what will continue to keep Emmetsburg a great place to “live, work and play.”

If elected to Mayor, I will work for you and with you.

Each of you has served as Mayor. What do you view as your major accomplishments during your term of office?

Accomplishments aren’t always measured by size or number but by the benefits they reap. Being part of the group with the Industrial Board that created the Industrial Park, offering larger parcels of land needed by some businesses and having something we could offer an industry looking for a place to settle.

Worked with a developer from West Bend who was interested in the property in the southwest corner of Emmetsburg that was occupied by a trailer court and now that has been turned into a lovely development with at least eight new houses and paved streets.

The Wild Rose did not just happen. The Mayor, City Administrator and Economic Developer worked with legislators and I.R.G.C. for three years to lift the gambling moratorium. Presentations were made before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission by two casinos that had an interest in Emmetsburg and out of this the Wild Rose was welcomed into our community. This entity has done so much for Emmetsburg and surrounding communities by their very generous grants that have allowed schools to benefit, fire departments and town projects to be born that would have normally died for lack of funding.

Can you create an atmosphere that unites city council, city employees and the community to move Emmetsburg in a favorable direction?

I believe that in the past I had created an atmosphere of a positive nature, working well with the city employees and our City Council and that in the future, between the administration, council, volunteer boards, employees and citizens, we can work together to move Emmetsburg forward in a positive direction that will keep us viable for the next generation and those to come.


Sandy Pelzer is a Therapist at Catholic Charities (Spencer and Algona offices). She is married to Steve Pelzer and the couple has three children:?Benjamin (age 19 at University of Iowa), Daniel (age 18, senior at EHS) and Anna Kate (age 15, sophomore at EHS).

Sandy is currently serving her first term on Emmetsburg City Council. She is playing Sister Mary Rita in Main Street Community Theatre’s Nuncrackers musical in December. She is a member of Holy Family Church, E-Hawk Band, Vocal and Athletic Booster Clubs, former chair of ECS’s AuctionFest, former ECS school board member, Horizons Leadership Program. She has completed the Bob McCartan Sprint Triathlon for the past six years and the O’Round the Loch Run for the past few years.

Why are you running for a position on Emmetsburg City Council?

I love Emmetsburg! I can never repay the many gifts Emmetsburg has given to me and my family. I believe that I have unique skills to offer that will help make Emmetsburg an even better place. During my first four years as your councilperson, I have focused on three main ideas: Transparency: By this I mean discussing and debating issues that matter in public, with the public present. I believe in making my final decision about an issue at the city council meeting, after hearing all of the input. Professionalism: A Professional is a person who becomes an expert in her purpose, behaves in a competent manner, strives for excellence, and holds herself to a very high standard of achievement. I believe that citizens should expect the same treatment from their city council and staff that they receive from any other professional that serves them. Accountability: Serving on city council is a privilege and a responsibility, and therefore we are accountable for our decisions and our actions. After we make a decision, we need to continue to be accountable to the public, and make sure the will of the people is truly represented, and the action did what it was intended to do.

The good news is that we have made progress. I will continue to ask questions, open up discussions and encourage citizens to participate in meetings. This is great news, because research tells us that we make better decisions when people are involved in the process.

2) Goals for betterment and how to work with others to achieve them

What will the future of Emmetsburg be like? I believe that Emmetsburg has great things to come. In my next term, one of my main goals is to work towards our city vision remember the vision developed at The Storm back in 2005? Space does not allow me to copy it here, but it was about (a) creating amenities that entice families to locate here, (b) regional concept reaching out to surrounding communities, and c) building industry and tourism. The city council needs to move us towards this vision. Transparency, Professionalism and Accountability will get us moving effectively in the right direction – as we strive to achieve great things, we must involve others in a transparent way and be accountable if we fail to make it happen.

In order to achieve our vision, I use the St. FRANCIS Pledge (an acronym developed by the Franciscan Action Network, a faith-based civic action organization).

Facilitate difficult discourse in the public arena. Bring up topics that may be uncomfortable and a source of disagreement, but need to be discussed in public.

Respect the dignity of all persons.

Audit myself use words that will reconcile and unite, rather than divide and inflame.

Neutralize heated conversation by maintaining a neutral tone and body language. Presume the other person is acting in good faith.

Collaborate with others to find the best possible solution.

Identify common ground.

Support others by calling upon their integrity, and urging them to be the best version of themselves.


Bill Burdick Jr. is running for City Council At-Large.

He and his wife, Kimberly, have a daughter, Caroline. Bill owns and operates GoGutter Seamless Gutters.

Bill moved to Emmetsburg at age one and became a lifelong E-Hawk. After high school he attended college in Rapid City, SD, where he met his wife. She joined the U.S. Army as a 91D or surgical tech. After being stationed in Texas and Washington state, they were permanently stationed at Fort Jackson, SC. They spent the last eight years there where Bill started GoGutters. Kimberly was deployed to Afghanistan.

After the couple had their daughter and Kimberly served seven years in the Army, they decided to move home to Emmetsburg. They moved back in April of 2010. Bill bought the former Marian Lanes bowling alley and has done extensive remodeling, making it into a warehouse and manufacturing area for his gutter business. He is also a member of the Emmetsburg Volunteer Fire Department.

Why are you running for a position on Emmetsburg City Council?

The reasons to run for a public office are many. Here are a few that need to be addressed. I know this is a big responsibility to make sure my voice and new ideas are heard. We need as a community to come together and forge a plan for the downtown business area along with the community center/golf course. We also have declining enrollment at our schools. What can be done to solve these problems?