City Council Candidate Profiles

OSKALOOSA – Five candidates are vying for a position on the Oskaloosa City Council each with a  unique set of qualifications that they believe will allow them to represent their fellow community members fairly.

From years serving on everything from community boards to previous stinks on the council itself these candidates bring something different to the table.

The polls in each of Oskaloosa’s four districts will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Voters can cast their ballot in the first ward at AEA/Ag Extension Office; in the second ward at Fellowship Bible Church’s activity building; in the third ward at the Old Webster Grade School; and in the fourth ward at the Old Grant School also known as the Agency on Aging.

Council Member At-Large – four year term

Joe Caligiuri and Jimmy Carter are running for a City Council position with hopes of representing the people of Oskaloosa as council member at-large. Both candidates have past political experience and a bright future for the city.

Caligiuri was elected in November 2011 and took office in January of that next year. Even in his first term, he was no stranger to decision making as he had served as a leader within many city organizations in the past.

Carter is hoping to return to the council, where he severed for several years gaining political experience. He believes after running Carter Steel and Manufacturing for several decades that his business knowledge will help lead Oskaloosa into the future.

Joe Caligiuri


Caligiuri, who was out of the country on business, was unable to be reached by The Herald for an interview.

Jimmy Carter


• Why are you running for City Council (or re-election)?

Well I’ve been involved in politics for a number of years and I felt that Oskaloosa voters should have the choice between two for the spot of council member at large. I feel that I have got the right experience and background in city politics that I can offer an opinion that maybe people haven’t heard in a while.

• What city initiative are most important in your eyes?

Growing our community and it’s tax base is a big one. When the tax levy gets high it stops the growth of industry and it also takes money out of the family budget. When we have more money in people’s pockets then they have more of an opportunity to buy goods and services and businesses will expand. I also think that the streets throughout our community are very important and that’s not just an election time comment. The streets are important to all of us because the affect all of us so in my opinion that’s a big priority.

• What personal traits make you a good fit for City Council?

I’ve got integrity and I feel that people know when I stand for something that I don’t flip-flop on it. I always research the issues because one of my things is that on any issues is I always count the cost vs. the benefit. I look into how we are going to pay for something, how we are going to be involved with in in the long term because you have to look at the big picture with these types of decisions.

• What is the top issue you would tackle on City Council?

There’s a number of important issues, I have mentioned the streets. Something that’s on the front burner for me right now is the fire department. If I would have been on the City Council I would have liked them to look at other locations for the fire department. I think that it would have been more cost effective to put up a new building at another location with more room for expansion.

• What is your vision for Oskaloosa?

To be vibrant, to be alive. That’s an easy comment to make, but we’ve got to make the city attractive for people to not only move to Oskaloosa, but stay in Oskaloosa. I think that when any business closes and moves out of town we need to do exit polling and figure out why.

Second Ward Council Member – four year term

Council member Tom Jimenez is running unopposed to represent the city’s second ward. He began his second four-year term with the council in January 2008.

Tom Jimenez
• Why are you running for City Council (or re-election)?

I’m community minded…I’m trying to keep our city going in the right direction, make sure that we get stuff done, make sure that the infrastructure stuff stays on track like we planned for it to do and really try to work within the budget that’s been set for us and keep the taxes as low as possible.

• What city initiatives are most important in your eyes?

Mostly the infrastructure stuff…I’ve recently been appointed to the waste water advisory committee and we’ve got a lot of waste water issues that we need to be taking care of pretty soon. The infrastructure’s bad. A lot of the pipes need to get replaced and redone and we’re trying to get the water and the waste water stuff together to try to save the tax payer money that way to make sure we get everything done as efficiently as possible. There’s a lot of stuff on the DNR that’s coming down all the time and we need to make sure that we’re taken care of that way.

• What personal traits make you a good fit for City Council?

I do the best I can being a business owner. We try to balance everything out, not get too carried away with things and try to make the city as good as possible. Within certain limitations we’re mandated certain things that we need to take care of and things that we can just handle professionally and make sure that we move along at a steady pace.

• What is the top issue you would tackle on City Council?

Really to try for the people of Oskaloosa to make sure that everybody is treated fairly and that we don’t get too carried away with other things that are a detriment to some of the people in town. We need to make sure that everybody gets a fair shot and that things are taken care of on an equal basis throughout our whole city so that not one part of town gets more work than another. We only have so much money to work with, so to make that happen is actually quite a challenge to make sure everything gets done. We’re just trying to make sure that everything works well and make the city a better place for everybody, that’s really what we’re after.

• What is your vision for Oskaloosa?

We’re always trying to make the city a better place, and making the downtown a viable place and to make sure that the corridors and things that we work on are better looking as we go down the streets. We’ve had some issues with the properties that are somewhat dilapidated and we’re trying to make it a better corridor area.

Those types of things, and more initiatives that get back to the infrastructure stuff to make sure that we get that stuff done. Streets and the sanitary sewer and things of that nature is what we really need to move ahead with. Those things are the vision parts that we look for in the future. The changing of the logos in the city are pretty good ideas. The ‘restart yourself’ so to speak and trying to make the younger people get involved.

Fourth Ward Council Member – four year term

Steve Burnett and Jason Van Zetten are both hoping to represent the fourth ward as a council member. Van Zetten was elected in Nov. 2011 and officially began his position with the board in January of the next year. While Burnett has not had political experience, he believes his business knowledge will help him represent residents of the ward.

Steve Burnett
Steve Burnett photo
• Why are you running for City Council (or re-election)?

I have been working with a great group of business people at MCDG, which has given me reason to attend several council meetings. I enjoy the opportunity to participate in the community, and I am determined there is a need for the people in the 4th ward to be better represented. We need someone who takes the time to listen to constituents and who knows how to engage in a respectful discussion even when there is disagreement. I would bring a style of leadership that is not adversarial or demeaning in nature.

• What city initiative are most important in your eyes?

Housing concerns have been part of the discussion in Oskaloosa over the last ten years. I see two key housing priorities: addressing the need for newly constructed homes for families that we would like to see move to the area; and working to improve the standards for rental housing. These will continue to be my priorities. We have had comments made from visiting developers that there would be some concern to invest in the community without assurances of improving the current standards. Their concern is that the value of their investments would be damaged by poorly maintained adjacent properties. Increasing housing standards must be addressed in order for Oskaloosa to prosper.

• What personal traits make you a good fit for City Council?

My willingness to listen, with an open mind, to all stakeholders in a particular issue prior to forming a decision is a trait that has served me well in my 30 – plus years of successful business experience. The willingness to listen is why I am able to effectively build a consensus from groups that may have strong differences.

• What is the top issue you would tackle on City Council?

1. First impressions are very important in the decisions each of us make every day. When others make decisions on whether they are going to move their families or businesses to Oskaloosa, their first impressions are Market Street and A Avenue. These corridors must be improved if we are going to provide the favorable first impressions to visitors and newcomers. This will require we improve the standards we currently accept pertaining to single family and rental housing.

• What is your vision for Oskaloosa?

My vision is an Oskaloosa that honors its past while welcoming the future. We have to have a council that is forward thinking because today’s businesses and families demand the amenities of today’s lifestyle. These include choices of restaurants, shopping and, yes, even life after 5PM. The minimum expectation is clean neighborhoods with well – maintained properties, well – kept streets, and sidewalks to allow families to safely enjoy the community. An Oskaloosa where today’s new generations will be willing to make Oskaloosa home.

Jason Van Zetten
Van Zetten
• Why are you running for City Council (or re-election)?

I have decided to run for a 2nd term to help make Oskaloosa’s future better. In order to achieve those goals we must place priorities on what is important to advance our economic growth, housing, education, and quality of life.

• What city initiative are most important in your eyes?

Oskaloosa must have a comprehensive plan for the city. Without this plan we cannot properly layout what we as a city should be focusing on with the limited resources and budget we must work within.

• What personal traits make you a good fit for City Council?

I have had the opportunity to run several diverse businesses and see the unique challenges they bring inside difficult economic times. Each one of these issues require a different path to resolution which allows me to ask difficult questions and make hard decisions.

• What is the top issue you would tackle on City Council?

There are several issues that must take top priority those being a comprehensive plan, housing, education and quality of life.

• What is your vision for Oskaloosa?

The future of Oskaloosa must include you and not be limited to organizations you cannot contribute to nor access. The single source pool cannot be limited to the same 10 people that sit on 20 different boards. I know the majority of us are frustrated with the establishment and you’re tired of elected officials supporting unpopular policies, using small groups you can’t access, only to pass policies you disagree with. I believe it is time that Oskaloosa has new exploration of articulated ideas from new energetic and passionate sources.

–Herald Assistant Editor Danielle Lunsford can be reached at and followed on Twitter @OskyHerald. Emery Songer of KBOE Radio contributed to this story.


Stay updated, sign up for our newsletter.