COUNCIL BLUFFS — With Mayor Tom Hanafan announcing this week that he won't seek re-election, at least two Council Bluffs political figures are preparing to enter the fray to be the city's next mayor.
Bluffs City Councilman Matt Walsh threw his hat in the ring Wednesday: “I am running.”
Former Speaker of the Iowa House Brent Siegrist is also strongly considering a run. “I have not made a final decision,” he said. “I am definitely interested.”
Hanafan announced Tuesday that he would leave the mayor's office when his term ends in January. He spent more than 25 years as mayor of Council Bluffs.
The next mayor will be selected in the November election. Candidates may file for the nonpartisan office between Aug. 12 and Aug. 29.
Said Siegrist: “It's a whole new era for Council Bluffs. ... It will be something for people to have a mayoral race that will likely be competitive.”
Walsh said he figures others will jump in now that Hanafan has bowed out.
Siegrist, a Republican, said he will be speaking to key people in Council Bluffs and will probably make a final decision in a month or so.
“This is a nonpartisan race. If I run, I hopefully will have support from Republicans, Democrats, independents,” he said.
Walsh, 57, a Republican, also likes the nonpartisan nature of the mayor's job, which pays an annual salary of $93,824. Walsh works at Security National Bank of Omaha as a commercial banker and is an 18-year member of the Bluffs City Council.
Siegrist, 60, is the executive director of the Iowa Area Education Agencies. He served in the Iowa Legislature for 18 years but did not seek re-election in 2002.
Hanafan is the longest-serving current mayor of any major Iowa city, having been elected to the post in 1987.
Back then, Council Bluffs was “a community that was struggling … losing population, losing jobs, basically losing property tax base,” Walsh said. “That has been completely turned around.
“I can't say enough good things about Tom. He's a man of the people.”
Said Siegrist: “Clearly, Tom has been a very good leader for Council Bluffs. ... It would bvery big shoes to fill.”
For his part, Hanafan vowed Wednesday to stay involved in community affairs after he leaves office.
“I don't want to go home and lay on the couch,” Hanafan, 65, said during a press conference at City Hall. “I want to take some time off and see what happens. ... I want to stay involved.”
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