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Madam Mayor

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Kim Clark Hits The Ground Running As Glenwood's First Female Mayor

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Most first days on the job involve getting acquainted with your co-workers, adjusting to your new desk and figuring out how to use the copy machine.

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You know, first day stuff.

Not new Glenwood Mayor Kim Clark.

No, Clark spent her first day on the job knee deep in financial paper work going over the city’s mounting snow removal debt.

“I spent my whole first day with (city administrator) Mary (Smith) working through some financial things,” said Clark, who was sworn in as mayor Dec. 22, but took over official duties Jan. 4. “And we’ve been reviewing the snow emergency process and trying to coordinate the police department with public works. So far so good.”

Clark said the numbers are still being put together but she estimates the city's $10,000 snow removal budget is nearly $8,000 over its line item after more than two feet of snow blanketed the city in December. She and Smith have already come up with a plan to perhaps help alleviate some of the city’s snow budget issues with the help of the county. Two week ago the Mills County Supervisors declared the county a blizzard disaster area. As part of that deal the county will receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds to help dig out. Clark is hoping the city can eliminate part of its budget shortfall with those funds and county assistance.

“We’re going to try and submit that to FEMA and get possibly recoup part of that budget area,” she said.

Clark doesn’t mind being thrown into the job on her first day. She’s used to juggling responsibilities. She served on the Glenwood City Council for 3 1/2 years and is employed as a Mills County Sheriff’s deputy. Clark also previously served on the Glenwood Police Department.

“I had a pretty good idea of how things worked before I took over,” she said.

Clark, a 1983 Glenwood Community High School graduate, defeated two-term incumbent mayor Dyle Downing by an almost 2-to-1 margin in the Nov. 3 election. Clark is the city’s first female mayor; a fact that isn’t lost on her.

“If you look at it as a whole I guess we’re pretty gender-free here all around,” she said. “The council is three (men) and three (women). And I’d guess that’s probably a first too.”

Among Clark’s first priorities as mayor is hiring a permanent chief of police. Mike Mercer has served as interim chief since John O’Connor stepped down from the position last August. Mercer is among three candidates that have expressed an interest in the job. Clark said current officers Eric Johansen and Trent Good have also submitted applications.

Clark said the chief position will remain open until Jan. 18 at 4:30 p.m. Applicants are being asked to submit resumes and “a two year plan” for the Glenwood Police Depart-ment. Her goal is to have the position filled by Jan. 26 with the approval of the council’s Public Safety Committee. Mercer was appointed as interim chief until Feb. 27.

“I’m going to involve the public safety committee and we’re going to make the best choice possible. If it’s Mike Mercer, we will appoint him at that time,” said Clark. “If it turns out to be someone else in the department we may have a 30-day training period to work things out. A lot will depend on the process.”

Clark calls hiring a permanent police chief and filling a public works opening as her staffing priorities. Clark will begin union negotiations this week on city salaries.

“We’re waiting to see what the auditor has for rollbacks and what their valuations are going to look like this year. Hopefully it’s not any worse than last year,” she said.

Clark acknowledges the city and county haven’t always had the best working relationship. That’s something she hopes to remedy in her tenure.

“Part of my thing is I don’t think there’s been enough talk between the two,” said Clark of the city and county. “A lot of it’s been he said, she said kind of thing. I think everyone is better off if the mayor and the supervisors can sit down and just mend those fences. What I think it comes down to sometimes is just the communication process.

“And I think we have a good council who is good at discussing things and has some new and different ideas and I think we can work some things out.”

As a sheriff’s deputy, Clark works the 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift but will keep mayor’s office hours most mornings.