One of the great things about the size of Marshalltown is the fact that you can run into the officials who run our town at the library, or the grocery store, or anywhere! We heard such great feedback about our Q&A with Chief Tupper that we wanted to introduce you to a newcomer, our new City Administrator, Jessica Kinser.
Jessica kindly answered a few questions for us so you can get to know her better and perhaps say “hi” next time you see her around town.
1. Jessica, for those who may not know you well, can you please tell us about your career and what brought you to Marshalltown?
Public administration was not my first career choice, but it has led me down a career path where I get to be part of some impactful programs and policies on a daily basis! After graduating with my Masters of Public Administration from Iowa State, I got my local government start in Ottawa County, Michigan, as a Management/Financial Analyst. I have worked in Griswold and Clinton as City Administrator as well. I wasn’t really looking to leave Clinton when I applied for the job in Marshalltown, but I was immediately impressed by the City’s elected officials and how positive they were about the community. It also helped that my brother and his family live in Marshalltown. I still have to pinch myself every now and then to remember how lucky I am to be close to family while working for and in a community that is focused on the future.
2. Some moms may not be be super familiar with the City Administrator role. What are the main responsibilities of your role as Administrator?
The City Administrator reports directly to the Mayor and 7 City Council members and is responsible for implementing the Council’s policies. The position also oversees the daily operations of the City, with all department heads as direct reports. I spend a lot of time communicating and planning what needs to be happening next. I also get to take on some special projects (new phone system, new website, various studies and reports) and try to assist departments wherever possible.
3. What do you think are Marshalltown’s greatest assets?
The first thing I started to notice about Marshalltown was how much people care about this community and willing to invest in important projects. Mega 10 Park saw a major transformation in 2017, and the financial support from the community was impressive! So our citizens are the biggest asset in my opinion.
4. What will your priorities be this year? For the next 5-10 years?
Each year, the City’s elected officials and staff get together to talk about our priorities for the next year and into the future. We will be reviewing a draft of the 2018 plan at the January 22nd Council meeting, but the Council remains committed to seeing the Police and Fire Building through, continuing to improve streets and tear down houses through our Dangerous & Dilapidates Building Program, and look internally at what policies and procedures we can change to enhance our organizational efficiency.
5. We hear a lot about this momentum that’s bringing a lot of optimism and positive change to our community. What are you most excited about?
We have a number of plans underway, but the one that excites me most is just now in development. The Highway 14 corridor from the Iowa River bridge to Anson Street is a highly traveled area on a daily basis but it is not an area we showcase as a community. This study will look at how we can enhance the area through better transportation (cars, bikes, pedestrians), aesthetics and signage, and land use and zoning. There will be opportunities for public input in the very near future! Updates will be posted on www.marshalltown-ia.gov.
6. 3 words to describe Marshalltown
Welcoming, forward-thinking, positive
7. What do you need from community members?
There are a number of groups working to change false perceptions about Marshalltown, but it starts with our citizens. What we say on social media or in the newspaper or to our family and friends about our community has an impact. The message needs to change in order for perceptions to change.
8. For fun: One word to describe yourself-
Planful (if that’s a real word!)
9. One thing the community may not know about you-
I tend to do a lot of DIY projects around my house and consider myself somewhat handy when it comes to home repairs.
10. Favorite sports team
Iowa State Cyclones