A Last Word With Tom Rielly
Oskaloosa, Iowa – This may seem a bit like Deja Vu for Rielly, who is now at the end of his second run for the office of Mahaska County Supervisor. His first attempt came up short against a determined and well organized candidate, Mike Vander Molen.
I asked Rielly what is different this time over the last time he ran. “There’s not a lot of difference. To be perfectly blunt, I don’t think it’s good to have an uncontested race. I think it’s OK to have competition and a different set of views and have a debate.” Rielly continued by saying he believes that the experiences and relationships he’s built, as either Mayor of Oskaloosa, Senator or a small business owner, “I think, will benefit Mahaska County.”
This election has become a one topic debate, that of the regional airport. I asked Rielly why he thinks it has become so focused on a single issue.
“I don’t know if there are some people trying to make it a political issue, but I think it’s good government.” Rielly said. He believes that it’s part of the bigger transportation intermodal issue. He believes that merging the two airports could be a part of “a thriving, vibrant economic region and we need tools to do that.”
“Rather than having two airports, why not merge them into one, and then locate that near a four lane highway, near a rail intermodal, couple that with good schools, a lot of good recreational opportunities and a competitive tax base, an efficiently run county government. That’s how you start creating jobs and that’s what I want to go after.” Rielly said.
Rielly recently held a listening post in the city of Leighton.
“I understand their passion, because if somebody’s going to erect a sewage treatment plant in my back yard, I’d probably get upset too.” Rielly said, who encourages the residents to get as much information on whatever the project is. “I’d encourage any citizen to get informed. Come to Eggs and Issues, come to the supervisors meetings, go to the respective city council meetings and continue to be informed on this.”
I asked Rielly if this concern over the airport was a surprise to him.
“Frankly, I had not heard much about this until the general election and the only thing I heard, and rightfully so, was the concern of the use of eminent domain. Well, nobody wants to use eminent domain, it should only be used as a very last resort.” Rielly said. “For some reason, some information that’s concerned me, I heard one quote where there’s some local businesses that they want to take your property and they can’t get it done, so they’re going to get a bunch of politicians to do it for them. I think that’s inflammatory rhetoric that’s just way off base, and it scares people, and that’s not the case at all. It’s disappointing that it’s getting to that level where you’ll go on WHO Radio and make a statement like that.” Reilly said this about the recent Jan Mickelson interview that his opponent Mark Doland and some area farmers had.
Social issues have been a point where Rielly has taken some heat locally, and I asked him how he believes those types will come up in his job as county supervisor?
“I never really considered Democrat or Republican. When we’re talking about Mayors and councils, school board, supervisor, I’ve always considered it [nonpartisan]. I just want somebody that’s good, that has the experience and can do a good job, that’s all I care about.” Saying in the end, “I don’t see how it would come into this.”
The office of Mahaska County Supervisor has been bumpy for the past couple of years, and Rielly addressed that by saying, “The thing I’d like to get back to. I don’t know how you say it, some courthouse politics. I think there’s been an atmosphere of distrust. That’s my perception in the courthouse, in the supervisors position. I’d like to try to get back to where we’re more of a team again, that we’re working together as a county and where the supervisors are working with the various communities. We’re all working together.”
In the end, Rielly asked everyone to “Go vote”.