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Ashley Noreuil – Ottumwa City Council

By Ellis Codjoe, September 29, 2017

Candidates were given the following instructions along with the candidate questionnaire:
Include your name, the office you are running for, your phone number and email.
We will post your responses in full and unedited (do your own spell check)

1. Explain why you are running for public office. I am running for office because there is work to
be done and I believe I am qualified to do that work. Including my time in school and the Marine
Corps, I spent nearly ten years outside of Iowa. During this time, I experienced the “fly over”
mentality that much of America thinks about the Midwest. I strongly disagree. Knowing the high
quality of life that one experiences in Iowa, I moved back and am committed to doing what I can
to increasing that quality of life. We are not a fly over state, nor are we a drive by community.
2. What will be your primary focus if elected? My primary focus if elected will be to make good,
long-term, strategic decisions for the City of Ottumwa. I will do this by doing my homework,
asking good questions, and challenging my fellow council members and city staff to consider the
long-term implications of an issue.
3. How long have you lived in Ottumwa? Since June 2012.
4. What is your professional/work history? Are you working now? Prior to arriving in Ottumwa, I
served in the Marine Corps as an aviation supply officer. I continue to serve in the Marine Corps
Reserve one weekend per month, two weeks in the summer and at other times as called upon. I
am currently working multiple part-time jobs that allow me to invest my time and energy into
various community activities. Those jobs are handling packages at FedEx, tutoring mathematics
at the Pothoven Success Center within Indian Hills, and coordinating solar installations for Iowa
Wind and Solar.
5. Please provide a list of your volunteer activities and some information about those activities.
Knowledge is power. To better understand my community, I enrolled in the Ottumwa
Leadership Academy in 2014, graduated in 2015, and completed the Citizens Police Academy
the following year. Embracing the camaraderie of the military, I am an active member of the
local American Legion post and currently serve as the 2nd Vice Commander. I am also a regular
attendee at The Bridge Church where I serve on the safety and set-up teams.
6. What is your educational background? I graduated from Brown University with a bachelor’s
degree in Applied Mathematics-Economics. After serving in the Marine Corps, I used the GI Bill
to earn two master’s degrees from Northwestern University, one in business administration and
one in engineering management.
7. Who is your biggest political influence? Why? I do not consider myself to be politically
motivated. I am honored to run for city council on a non-partisan ticket. At this time, I cannot
think of a political influence.
8. We often hear from individuals seeking public office of a need for better transparency and
communication with the public. What specifically will you do if elected to improve
transparency and communications? I will adhere to Iowa’s Open Meetings Law. In addition, I
welcome feedback from the community via phone, email and, my personal favorite, United
States Postal Service.
9. What are the three most pressing issues facing the City of Ottumwa? How would you address
those issues? Three pressing issues facing the City of Ottumwa are economic growth,
underutilized infrastructure, and lack of a clearly articulated strategic plan. The goal of economic
growth is to attract and retain jobs. The City can aid this effort by fostering a good climate for
business and establishing incentives as necessary. With more jobs, our population will increase
filling vacant homes and storefronts. Now occupied, our tax base has increased and we’re in a better position to service our infrastructure. Our lack of a clearly articulated strategic plan is
dangerous. We must decide where we would like to be in 5, 10 or 20 years and make conscious decisions to move towards those goals. This is why my primary focus will be to make good, long-
term, strategic decisions for the City of Ottumwa.

10. What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents? I

have broad knowledge of the community. Professionally, I’ve worked at manufacturing, non-
profit, logistics and educational organizations within the area. My positions have varied from

white collar project management to blue collar labor, handling packages to ensure businesses
have the products they need and families have a merry Christmas. Not wanting to be limited to
my working hours, I’ve stayed out of my house and in the community to graduate from the
Ottumwa Leadership Academy and Citizens Police Academy. My time in the Marine Corps gave
me experience managing government accounts when I was responsible for over $720 million in
Fiscal Year 2009 funds. Furthermore, it crafted my ability to make tough decisions under
pressure. Lastly, I have an immense amount of respect for the Council office and the
responsibility that comes with it. If elected, I will pray to the Lord Almighty that with His help I
can make good, long-term, strategic decisions for the City of Ottumwa.
11. What can the city of Ottumwa do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden put
on homeowners? The City of Ottumwa can ease the property tax burden on homeowners by
creating a positive business environment that will invite more businesses into the area.
Increasing the number of businesses within the City will increase the total valuation of all
commercial properties and the revenue that is received from commercial property tax. This will
decrease the burden placed on homeowners. Please note that I am not supporting an increase
to the commercial tax rate. That would hurt current businesses. I am proposing that an occupied
commercial building will provide more tax revenue than a vacant storefront.
12. What can the city do to help young adults and millennials become homeowners? Homes in
Ottumwa have lower property valuations compared to other communities in Iowa. While this
hurts our property tax collections, it creates a low barrier to entry for young adults and
millennials looking to become homeowners. The City should establish partnerships with local
organizations such as banking institutions, contractors and the Ottumwa Housing Authority to
educate and support young adults as they transition to becoming homeowners.
13. What can the City of Ottumwa do to improve the overall quality of our roads? Would you
support a one-time massive push to improve all roads, even if that meant borrowing a large
amount of money? The City can improve the overall quality of our roads by being good
stewards of the funds that are earmarked for this purpose. Road maintenance is an ongoing
obligation of the City, much the same way that utility bills are an ongoing expense of any
household. We need to demonstrate the discipline to plan this maintenance and budget
accordingly. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance, I do not support a one-time massive
push to improve all roads. Furthermore, I do not support borrowing large amounts of money for
routine maintenance.
14. What can the City of Ottumwa do to improve quality of life activities for its residents? The City
of Ottumwa should focus on the positive quality of life that already exists and build upon these
successes. Greater Ottumwa Park is a crown jewel within the community and should be
embraced as such. The trails system along the levy not only provides individual recreational
opportunities, but also creates an environment for community events. The underpass below highway 34 gave residents another means of crossing the highway without using a vehicle. To
build upon these successes, the City needs to keep its ears and eyes open, listening to residents
to identify in-demand services and identifying grant opportunities that become available to
finance the quality of life improvements.
15. What can the City of Ottumwa do to help establish new attractions? I think Ottumwa has had
recent successes in RAGBRAI, Fly Iowa and the upcoming Fireball visit. We need to capture the
experience and lessons learned from these events. Past organizers and volunteers need to
recruit new people to participate in future events to ensure the same individuals aren’t burned
out year after year. In addition, the City can help facilitate discussions between organizations to
cross-market existing attractions in the area. One event or attraction might not be enough to
inspire a family to visit Ottumwa, but the prospect of multiple activities, accommodations and
eateries may be sufficient to increase visitors to the area.
16. Do you support efforts to revitalize downtown Ottumwa? Should these programs be
expanded to other business districts? Yes, I support efforts to revitalize downtown Ottumwa.
We should build upon the successes and lessons learned in the downtown area to revitalize
Church Street, Richmond Avenue and the area immediately surrounding Greater Ottumwa Park.
17. Ottumwa has long held a great financial rating; however, budgets continue to decline state
wide. Should Ottumwa consider eliminating or privatizing city services in order to make
quality of life improvements for citizens? Considering whether to eliminate or privatize city
services is a strategic, long-term decision that should be considered very carefully. When looking
at the issue, specific factors for consideration include: Is the service readily provided by an
existing private company? Are there local companies in Ottumwa providing the service? Is the
service unrelated to public safety? Is the service scheduled on a routine basis that will not be
needed on an urgent basis? At this time, I cannot think of a single service that should be
eliminated or privatized.
18. Do you believe that tax credits, breaks and other benefits given to box stores wishing to locate
in Ottumwa harms other businesses already located here? Should the city continue offering
those tax breaks and benefits? Should the council decide to stop offering these types of tax
breaks, what would you do to continue attempting to attract new businesses? Competition
challenges businesses to provide greater value to their customers. Creating an environment of
fair competition is healthy. Creating unfair competition by unduly compensating one business
over another is not healthy. Ottumwa competes with other communities to attract retail stores
to the area. To increase our chances of landing a big box store, we will be asked to provide
incentives. I support incentives that defray start-up costs so that the retailer can establish their
store. I do not support incentives that enable the new retailer a long-term unfair advantage over
existing stores.
19. Which is more important for Ottumwa’s prosperity in the future: Retail or manufacturing? The
proper business mix will both attract and retain people in Ottumwa. We need high paying jobs
that offer sufficient benefits to motivate employees to move to Ottumwa. Once people move to
Ottumwa, we need businesses that offer quality of life services for people to stay in Ottumwa.
Traditionally, manufacturing provides the jobs that attract employees to the area, while retail
provides those quality of life services that retain people in the community. Neither retail nor
manufacturing will be sufficient on their own.
20. Wapello County has a higher unemployment rate than all bordering counties and is often
considered one of the top 3 poorest in the state of Iowa. Why do you feel that is the case and
what would you do to correct it? Unfortunately many children in our community grow up in an
environment of generational poverty. Fortunately, our school district offers many services to
these children and their families. The City, in and of itself, cannot move the needle on poverty.
Working with other organizations such as the school district, the Ottumwa Housing Authority,
SIEDA, IowaWORKS, churches and numerous others, the City can assist those below the poverty
line to both meet their current needs and plan for a prosperous future.

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