Jarrad Walter has formally announced his campaign for the Ward 1 seat on the Decorah City Council, setting up at least one contested race in this fall's city election.

Seven-year Council member Randy Schissel, who has represented Ward 5, now lives in the new Ward 1 after ward boundaries were redrawn due to redistricting following the 2010 Census. He said he plans to seek re-election.

Walter was appointed in July to fill the Ward 1 vacancy after Council member John Franzen resigned.

"I am grateful to have been appointed to represent Ward 1 on the City Council in July, and my goal is to continue serving the citizens of Decorah," Walter said. "I will do this by working with my fellow residents, Council members and city staff to accomplish the goals set for our great community. Together, we can ensure a perpetually energized and viable Decorah."

Walter previously served on the Decorah Human Rights Commission.

The deadline to file papers with the city clerk or the county auditor's office is Thursday, Sept. 19. Walter filed his papers Aug. 26, the first date candidates could file. City elections are Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Walter is a 1994 graduate of Decorah High School and a 1998 graduate of Luther College. After graduation, he and his wife, Laurie, moved to Austin, Texas, where they began raising their children, Kera and Davis. In 2012, the family returned to Decorah. Walter continues to work in sales and marketing support for a software company based in Austin.

For more information on Walter, visit www.walterforcouncil.com.

Besides Walter, Decorah Mayor Don Arendt is the only other city official who has filed nomination papers so far.

One race so far

Due to redistricting, all Council members except Rachel Vagts, are up for re-election.

Council member Gary Rustad, who serves at-large, Paul Wanless, Ward 3, and Jody Niess, Ward 2, also said they intend to run for another term. Council member Carolyn Corbin, who represents Ward 4, no longer lives in her ward due to the new boundaries and is not seeking another term.

"I am stepping away from City Council at the end of this term to focus on my new business venture," she said.

Her business, Corbin Group, offers modern marketing and green business solutions.


Schissel said he's learned a lot serving on the Council.

"I believe with the experience I have gained and the education I have received via classes, workshops and conferences, I will be able to work through the challenges we will encounter for the betterment of Decorah," Schissel said.

Rustad, a 16-year member of the Council, said he truly likes the job.

"I like talking with people about the different projects and issues the city is working on and hearing their options. I especially like working on infrastructure projects like streets," said Rustad, who chairs the Council's street committee.

"I've enjoyed working and seeing street projects through like Short Street and the intersection of State and Claiborne streets. In the future we need to continue with more street improvements on East Main, Locust Road and others."

Wanless, who has served on the Council since 1996, said he also likes his role on the Council.

"I try to find the middle of the road, common sense approach on most things," he said.

Wanless said most issues the Council faces aren't that controversial.

"We have to take care of basic services first - streets, water, sewer, parks. It's just finding a way to do it," he said.

Niess, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in June, said serving on the Council has been interesting and challenging.

The owner of Eclips Salon & Day Spa in Decorah, Niess said she wants to continue to serve on the Council as a way of giving back.

"I've invested in Decorah, and the community has invested in me. We have to make sure we keep investing for the future," she said.

Term members

The mayor and Council members serve four-year terms, but in order to maintain staggered terms following redistricting, the terms of Wards 2 and 4 will expire in December, 2015.