Manawa’s mayor stepping down
Smith looks back at last eight years
By Holly Neumann
After serving as Manawa’s mayor for the past eight years, John Smith will leave office following the spring election in April.
“The decision to no longer run for the mayor of Manawa is kind of bittersweet,” he said. “To be honest, I’ve had lots of second thoughts. Several times, I thought that I should still run as a write-in candidate.”
The city of 1,350 residents grew exponentially during his eight years in office, Smith said.
“There were several open storefronts with nobody in them and now we have business owners who have bought into the idea that Manawa can be special,” he said. “We have some extremely beautiful buildings downtown and we should all be proud of what our city has to offer.”
Although helping establish the Manawa Area Veterans Freedom Park was not part of Smith’s duties as mayor, he said it is definitely one of the highlights of his lifetime.
“It provides a place for all families to celebrate the freedoms provided by the sacrifices of our military and brings a growing tribute to our military veterans and their families,” he said.
The hardest part of the job was being a business owner and the city’s mayor, he said.
“This by far was the most difficult thing to deal with,” he said. “To be honest with you, the only way to deal with that is to move forward and hope that someday, those differences can be resolved and you can go back to life as it used to be.”
He hopes the incoming administration will continue with some of the projects that have been in the works behind the scenes, several of which were put on hold due to COVID-19.
“I know there was discussion during the mayoral forum about residential housing issues,” Smith said. “That is an issue we were working on right before COVID-19 put a damper on all projects, including planning.”
According to Smith, the water treatment plant will be paid off in 2023.
“The city will then have borrowing opportunities,” he said. “We can complete some much-needed road work and utility improvements on streets that may not have a sidewalk or curb and gutter.”
Advice to next mayor
Smith offered advice to not only the new mayor, but also Manawa residents.
“I guess my best piece of advice for the next mayor would be do not listen to one side of an argument. Listen to both sides of every story, then make educated decisions based off of those discussions,” he said.
“Everything you do, you need to look at it from a business standpoint,” he said. “Put your feelings aside and what your wishes are and go with the decision that is best suited for the entire community.”
Smith hopes the next mayor gets to experience all of the personal interaction and phone calls that he has.
“This truly gives you a better understanding of what the residents in the city are thinking and what they want not only today, but for the future,” he said.
His advice to city residents? Don’t change a thing.
“Make your feelings known and communicate with the next person holding this position,” he said. “It is our elected responsibility to serve you and we make that decision when we sign our paperwork.”
Once he leaves the position, Smith who enjoys hunting and fishing, will spend more of his time in the woods or on the water.
“I also think it’s time to think about Robyne and I and what our future holds,” he said. “It’s time that we think about us for a while and move in a direction that keep us healthy and happy together.”
Smith said it has been a pleasure to be involved in the city government, serve the residents of the city and get to work with some truly amazing people that work directly for the city or are contracted to provide services for the city.
“I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with the current employees and past employees of the city and to them, I would like to say thank you,” he said. “I’d also like to say thank you to the people I have served. It has been a wonderful learning and growing experience for me.”