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Tom Lazio – Ottumwa Mayor

By Ellis Codjoe, September 29, 2017

  • Explain why you are running for public office.

    • I am running for Mayor of Ottumwa. I have demonstrated that i can provide the leadership and professionalism that the office requires.
  • What will be your primary focus if elected?

    • I will continue to listen to the people of Ottumwa and focus on working with the Council to set the priorities for the city.
  • How long have you lived in Ottumwa?

    • I have lived in Ottumwa 50 years.
  • What is your professional/work history? Are you working now?

    • I worked at American Home Finding Association for 45 years before retiring. Yes, I am working now as the Mayor of Ottumwa.
  • Please provide a list of your volunteer activities and some information about those activities. (include time on city boards, commissions, councils, etc).

    • Some of the groups I have volunteered for are: Boy Scouts, Ottumwa Regional Health Center, the Ottumwa School Board, the Women’s Shelter and Crisis Center, the Coalition for Children and Families of Iowa, the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation Board of Directors, Rotary Club and the Diocesan Lay Board.
  • What is your educational background?

    • I am a graduate of the University of Iowa.
  • Who is your biggest political influence? Why?

    • Bobby Kennedy – He took the initiative to institute programs to help people in our country.
  • 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 continue to be transparent and have good communications with the public.
  • What are the three most pressing issues facing the City of Ottumwa? How would you address those issues?

    • The 3 most important issues are: Public Safety, Finances, and Housing. I would hire more police. I would ensure our Moody’s financial rating and balance our budget. I will work with the Housing Task Force to build more housing which is a form of economic development.
  • What skills, qualities or experience do you possess that separate you from your opponents?

    • I am a good listener. I am fair minded. I have experience with state and federal with grants and officials. I have worked with the people of Ottumwa on a variety of programs, volunteer activities, being available full time to answer questions and respond to requests.
  • What can the city of Ottumwa do and what should it do to ease the property tax burden put on homeowners?

    • Bring in more good paying jobs and build more homes.
  • What can the city do to help young adults and millennial become home owners?

    • Have a first time home owner incentive and down payment program for them.
  • 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?

    • Continue to repair and replace city streets. No.
  • What can the City of Ottumwa do to improve quality of life activities for it’s residents?

    • We will work with other organizations to develop and improve quality of life activities and facilities.
  • What can the City of Ottumwa do to help establish new attractions? (Example: Museums, zoos, casino, traveling attractions, concerts, festivals, events, etc)

    • The city can provide leadership and in-kind technical assistance to help establish events and venues.
  • Do you support efforts to revitalize downtown Ottumwa including: White Box Program, Roof Program, Facade Improvement Program, Upstairs Apartments Program, downtown camera system, street-scaping plan, Canteen Alley Project, Etc.? Should these programs be expanded to other business districts?

    • Yes and Yes.
  • 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? Explain including what services you would consider cutting or privatizing.

    • No – We will have to study and evaluate the essential services, look at ways to be more efficient and set priorities.
  • Do you believe that tax credits, breaks and other benefits given to box stores wishing to locate in Ottumwa (Example: Hobby Lobby, Kohls) 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?

    • No – Having other businesses and more choice only improves the economic impact of all businesses. yes. Work with economic development groups.
  • Which is more important for Ottumwa’s prosperity in the future: Retail or manufacturing (industry)? Explain.

    • We need both to grow and help increase both the tax base and the LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) taxes.
  • 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?

    • State and federal data consider Wapello County one of the poorest. We need to find out from employers why they lay people off. We need to ask what the businesses need to expand and grow. If there are more jobs the unemployment will go down.
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