Bowden, McCartney won’t seek re-election to board of supervisors

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Gary Bowden

Ron McCartney

By Pat McTaggart

After eight years of serving on the Clayton County Board of Supervisors, Republicans Ron McCartney and Gary Bowden have decided not to run again. The two men were interviewed to answer several questions concerning their decision and their time in office.

Why did you decide not to run again?

Bowden: If I just had the weekly supervisor meetings, I would consider running again. By state law, supervisors are required to attend board meetings of other organizations that we help fund. Some of those meetings are in places like Des Moines, Waterloo, etc. Of all the boards I serve on, I am chairman of five and have approximately 150 meetings to attend each year. My wife Pat and I enjoy traveling, family, spending time at the summer camp along the river, taking care of our acreage, etc., but we are finding out that time is limited because of supervisor duties.

McCartney: It’s time. Although working for the public has been a great experience, it’s time to focus on family and our farm operation.


What do you think are some of the best things the supervisors have accomplished while you were in office?

Bowden: When looking back at what has been accomplished since taking office, I am amazed. Here are some of them: 1. We moved county offices from a run-down three-story asylum to a modern one-story building with a big parking lot. 2. We refurbished the courthouse inside and out (there is still some work to be done on the clock tower) and the soldier’s statue on the courthouse lawn. 3. Built a new, larger courthouse parking lot. 4. Built a new road shop in Farmersburg after their fire. 5. Built a new road shop on the Garber Road and then sold the Garber and Guttenberg shops. 6. Built a new road shop in Millville and sold the old one. 7. Reorganized the secondary road staff along with updating equipment to fit the needs required to get more work done and do some work that was normally put out for bid in the past, such as rebuilding roads and railroad tank car placement for drainage. All the projects were accomplished while the county tax levy was lowered every year except one while we were in office.

McCartney: We’ve completed a terrific list of accomplishments for Clayton County in just eight years. The new office building. Updates and preservation to the historic courthouse include ADA access, new roof and repaired walls, updated restrooms, and increased security. Repairs to the historic clock and clock tower, along with a new parking lot, are the most noticeable and popular changes to the courthouse. Other major improvements include three new shops for secondary roads, as well as the new conservation shop. Significant equipment purchases have helped our workforce in secondary roads improve multiple roadways, replace bridges and crossings at a faster rate and respond in amazing speed to several weather events thrown at the county by Mother Nature. Most importantly, all of the above were accomplished without increasing debt to the county, with the exception of the bond issue for the office building that was voted on by the public. In addition, the supervisors have been able to lower the levy rate 10 percent in five years.


What would you like to have seen accomplished that was not while you were in office?

Bowden: Much of the county property has been upgraded, but more still needs to be done. The clock tower needs to be finished to historical standards, more county road shops need to be upgraded and we need to build a bypass around Garnavillo for trucks going to Clayton.

McCartney: There are never enough funds to accomplish everything needed with the county road system. Bridge replacement is not fast enough. Several roadways need updated sooner than funding will permit. Improvement of secondary road facilities needs to continue with the replacement of the obsolete Strawberry Point Shop.


What are some of the biggest challenges facing the county in the next few years?

Bowden: The county has some challenges ahead that must be tackled. Clayton County continues to lose population year after year. The major employers are approximately 200 workers short, and small business also struggles to find people to fill openings. When people come to Clayton County looking for work and find it, but cannot find a place to live, they move on. Clayton County Economic Development, the county supervisors, city leaders and some state leaders are pushing forward with a project called Housing 360 to bring more housing into the county. Hopefully, we will start to see some of that construction yet this year. Another concern and irritant is that the state legislature is all too willing to create county tax giveaways to certain entities, but no backfill to the counties in the state.

McCartney: Clayton County is a rural, low tax base county, always making funding a challenge. Continued restrictions and challenges placed on the county by state government favoring urban areas continue to be a factor. Locally, there is a shortage of trained workers and housing. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of social needs for low-income and people with disabilities.


How would you characterize your time in office?

Bowden: I believe my time in office has been very productive and rewarding. When running for office, I kept saying we need a more efficient and effective county government. Once you learn to operate more efficiently, you become more effective. I believe that has happened during my time in office.            

McCartney: We’ve had eight years of responsible business management. Improvements have cash flowed without debt. Clayton County government is in great financial shape.


What are some of the best and worst things about serving as a supervisor, and did you enjoy your time in office? Will you miss it?

Bowden: I have truly enjoyed my time as a Clayton County Supervisor. The people who work for the county have been a pleasure to work with. Everybody knows their job and they do it well. Being a supervisor, it is only natural that you are going to hear many complaints along the way, but, I must say, we have had some nice compliments. I will miss being a supervisor, but I won’t miss the outside meetings that required a long drive.

McCartney: Working with terrific county employees will be something I’m sure I will miss. Helping to solve issues for citizens is rewarding and makes the time commitment well worth it. Dealing with difficult personnel issues as well those isolated folks who don’t act appropriately is one of the few aspects of the job I will happily leave behind.


What advice would you give to anyone planning to run for the Clayton County Board of Supervisors?

Bowden: Anybody who is planning to replace me as supervisor should be willing to put in the time required, listen to the public, be prepared to put lots of miles on your vehicle, maintain a good temperament and work to maintain effective and efficient government. They also need to be good with numbers and doing budgets, have basic computer skills and should not come in with a narrow vision, but be able to look at the whole picture.

McCartney: Future supervisors need to be open-minded. Taking on this job with an agenda will limit decision-making ability. Most importantly, invest the time needed to learn, review and formulate decisions that will impact folks.

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