Schweers's active partisanship opens doors for city
September 3, 2013
Purists may have a problem with Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers serving as a co-chairman for Gov. Terry Branstad's re-election campaign, introducing the governor at events, and even launching a campaign for a GOP state Senate seat from the Farner Government Building.
Historically, Carroll's mayors and council members have been public servants elected in non-partisan elections, no party labels, no Republican and Democratic interference.
The thinking is local issues transcend party lines.
Lately though, too many people in Carroll are applying their national and state philosophies to local government - looking to make broader points or appeals rather than taking narrow, practical approaches and just doing what's right for this city. We want our city leaders casting "Carroll" votes, not hewing to increasingly inflexible partisan lines, more demanding political party camps.
One of the beauties of city government in Iowa is that it is designed to exist outside the toxicity, the climbing and crawling we see in Des Moines and Washington, D.C.
So it's fair to ask the question: Do we want a mayor who is visibly, actively partisan?
On balance, I say yes.
If Schweers operated as an independent, he'd have less access to the governor's office. Branstad views him not just as a local leader to be given lip-service respect, but as a political ally. That opens doors for Carroll.
On one recent economic-development project Schweers obtained a personal meeting with the governor. This project may not emerge from the idea stage - but the next one could.
Had Carroll County voters elected Democrat Mary Bruner to the Statehouse, we'd have a direct pipeline to one of the more powerful and effective state legislators in Iowa's history - her cousin, Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs.
Imagine having Schweers and Bruner with access to centers of power in both parties?
Longer term, the people cheering Schweers' involvement with Branstad should be consistent. We may have a mayor or council member who is one day very publicly associated with a Democratic candidate for governor or the U.S. Senate. The argument for what Schweers is doing today should hold tomorrow if someone with Democratic affiliation takes the gavel.
There, of course, are those purists who will say that Carroll's elected officials should remain outside of Republican and Democratic politics.
It's a defensible argument to say Carroll's elected city officials should pull back on GOP or Democratic activity. That considered, I haven't heard it from anybody on the council - or in the general public for that matter.
Of course, Schweers has the ultimate untouchable comeback to any challenge on anything he's ever said or done at city hall: Nobody has ever run against him for the council or mayor's office, so people are either supporting his open partisanship or they just don't care.
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