TCU grad, new Carroll resident seeks council seat
August 19, 2013
Amber Raak says it's time younger Carroll residents participated more in local government.
She plans on doing her part.
Raak, 29, an Atlantic native and graduate of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, has taken out nomination papers to run for an at-large seat on the Carroll City Council being vacated by Councilman Jeff Scharfenkamp.
"I have vigor. I really like Carroll," Raak said. "I want Carroll to get better."
A Daily Times Herald analysis of the 774 votes cast in 2011 Carroll city election showed 11 voters 30 and under. Meanwhile, 85 percent of the voters were 50 and older, and 50 percent were 65 and older.
Voters in their 30s and 40s didn't exactly swell the polling places, either. In the 31-to-49 category there were 105 voters, just 14 percent of the total that election.
"I have a concern for the lack of involvement of people in my generation," Raak said.
Raak, a staff assistant in the Carroll County Recorder's Office, moved to Carroll this summer from Ames after marrying Paul Raak, the co-owner and manager of the Carroll Pizza Ranch. Paul Raak, a Sioux Center native who attended Central College in Pella, has been with Pizza Ranch for about 15 years. He is currently the president of the Carroll Rotary Club.
Amber Raak is a daughter of Greg and Deb Williams of Atlantic. Her father is a welder for Duke Aerial Equipment of Atlantic. Her mom operates a cleaning business. Raak's brother, Chris Williams, 31, is the assistant women's tennis coach at Iowa State University.
For her part, Raak graduated from TCU in 2006 with a major in religion and a minor in vocal-music performance. She worked for several years as a wedding coordinator in North Dallas before moving back to Iowa and getting involved in the abstract and title business.
In Carroll, she also assists her husband at Pizza Ranch, primarily in staff development with the restaurant's 30 local employees.
"I spend a lot of time working with the high school girls," Raak said.
The Raaks attend Pleasant Ridge Community Church in rural Glidden. Amber Raak describes herself as a evangelical Christian. She is a registered independent.
Raak's grandmother, Liz Rubel, a retired Mid-American Energy employee, lives in Audubon.
"I have a lot of sweet memories of Carroll," Raak said. "When I spent the weekend with grandma we would go shopping in Carroll."
Raak said she approaches a council race with no broader political ambitions, just a desire to serve the community and help move it forward.
"I'll learn a lot," Raak said. "I'll do it with humility. I have a genuine desire to see Carroll thrive."
Raak said Carroll has embraced her and that she has strong support for the council bid.
"I'm not the only one excited about it," Raak said. "I'm not swimming upstream. I feel like I have a bunch of people in my camp. That's one of Carroll's strengths - they're willing to welcome newcomers with wide-open arms."
The filing period for the November city elections begins Aug. 26 and closes on Sept. 19. Candidates can take out papers at city hall or online through the Iowa Secretary of State's Office - sos.iowa.gov
Scharfenkamp and 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Eifler have said they will not seek re-election. Mayor Adam Schweers and 1st Ward Councilman Michael Kots are seeking re-election. The other Carroll elected officials' seats are not up until 2015.
Carroll Community School District board member Jerry Fleshner, who is not running for re-election to that panel, has said he may seek the at-large council seat.
The mayor's salary is $4,800 annually. Council members are paid $2,400 each year.
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