MANCHESTER, Iowa — For the first time in nearly half a century, the Manchester mayoral position will be on a ballot without Milt Kramer’s name, but area voters still will see two names familiar to local politics.
At-large City Council Member Connie Behnken and former Council Member Jeff Ogden are squaring off in the Nov. 2 election after Kramer announced he would not run again after 47 years in the role.
Behnken said she has contemplated a mayoral run for many years. She said she always told Kramer she would never run against him, but once he decided it was time to pass the reins, she would be ready to throw her hat in the ring.
“I think those are some very big shoes to fill,” she said. “I have nothing but respect for the man — everyone doesn’t always agree with him, but that’s in any political realm. He wouldn’t have been the mayor this long if he wasn’t doing something right.”
Behnken, who is currently in her 10th year of serving on the City Council, also previously served two terms on the West Delaware Community School Board as well as one year on the city Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I love Manchester. It’s been good to me. I grew up here,” she said. “I just want to give back. I don’t really have an agenda or anything, I would just like to keep Manchester moving in the right direction. We always have to be fiscally responsible and inclusive and continue to watch the city grow.”
“I’d like to continue to serve, use common sense and know what our limitations are,” she added. “But we also need to think outside the box on what we can do to make our town better.”
While it has been about 15 years since he sat on the Manchester council, Ogden never stopped being a close observer of local politics, typically calling at least three of the council members before they cast votes on issues that are important to him.
One of Ogden’s observations that in part motivated him to run for mayor was the fact that, often, local elections are uncontested.
“I think people should have a choice,” he said.
Ogden said his concern about spending was one of the biggest factors that drove him to seek election.
“When I was on council before, I voted against a good $2 million of what I felt was needless spending,” he said.
He said that while he wants to see Manchester continue to progress forward, it is time for elected officials to really analyze where dollars are being spent.
“If you set priorities, you can do a lot of positive things,” Ogden said. “Manchester is right on the verge of being able to really get ahead if we watch ourselves, but we need to be able to have the money to do it.”
While Ogden noted that he does not think any of the current council members have any ill intentions when it comes to the decisions they make, he believes more opinions need to be taken into account when making decisions, especially when it comes to adding to the city’s debt.