PEOSTA, Iowa — A special election has been set to allow Peosta residents to head to the polls — again — to select the city’s next mayor.
City Council members voted, 4-1, to hold the special election on Jan. 25. The seat is open after former Mayor Jim Merten resigned from the position earlier this month after he was elected to it days after he resigned from it the first time.
Council Member Karen Lyons, whose time on the council is nearing an end after she did not run for reelection this month, cast the lone vote against setting the special election.
“It’s easier to appoint,” she said.
But Council Member John Kraft said holding a special election is the best way to decide who should run the city. Kraft has served as mayor pro tem since Merten first resigned in late October.
“It’s not always what’s easiest, but it’s what’s best,” Kraft said.
Merten initially resigned as mayor less than a week before the Nov. 2 election, in which he was running unopposed for reelection. Merten’s name still was the only one on ballots, and he still earned more votes than any other write-in candidate.
Merten then resigned from the position again, stating in a letter that he decided to step down as mayor due to “changes in my professional career.”
Merten’s letter also thanked those who voted for him.
“Their action will allow an opportunity for the Peosta community to get to know their mayoral candidates before casting their votes in a special election,” the letter states.
Merten himself was elected in a 2020 special election following the departure of former Mayor Larry Mescher in October 2019.
While Kraft said he has enjoyed his time so far in his mayor pro tem role, he does not intend to run for the permanent position.
“It’s been great. The staff here does a wonderful job,” he said. “It’s been interesting, getting to see the difference between being a council member and mayor.”
City Council Member Doug Hughes earned 70 write-in votes in the Nov. 2 election — the most of any write-in candidate — though he did not campaign as a write-in candidate. He voted Tuesday to hold a special election for the mayoral position.
“I don’t know,” he said Tuesday when asked if he will run in the election. “That’s something I’ll decide probably in the next few weeks.”
City Administrator Annette Ernst said an outline of deadlines tied to the special election already has been prepared by Jenny Hillary, Dubuque County deputy commissioner of elections.
The filing deadline for any resident that wishes to run for mayor will be Dec. 29. Those candidates then have until 5 p.m. Jan. 3 to withdraw their names if they reconsider.
The first day to mail in ballots or vote early in person at the Dubuque County Auditor’s Office will be Jan. 5.
The deadline to request a mail ballot will be Jan. 10, which also will be the final day that residents can pre-register to vote.
Residents can vote early in person until Jan. 24. Polls then will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 25 in Peosta.