Steve Hanken, Council At-large

Steve Hanken

Address: S. Main Street 

Why did you want to run for city council? I’m running to give the people of Monticello a better understanding of how things work in this community and how to regain their voice in what happens on the council. I want to make decisions that are inclusive, not exclusive, of those who live here. 

What are some challenges/issues the city will face in the near future? Our sewage treatment plant needs replacing. Anamosa and Cascade have completed theirs; we have yet to complete the assessment of what we need. 

The downtown needs answers to get sustainable businesses back; it is going to take some doing, and input from more than a handful of people to accomplish it. 

What good things does Monticello have going for itself? There is plenty of space along the by-pass that needs filling. We have one of the best airports in the state of a city of our size, and fiber optics is readily available. We have good possibilities here; if we apply our collective brainpower, we can find answers to our problems. Our local people have the ability and skills to move us forward. No one is as smart as all of us. 

What are your thoughts on the city working with Main Street Iowa to help revitalize the downtown? If this isn’t the solution, what is? The Main Street program leaves me cold. Monticello, in the past, was a place that pulled itself up by its bootstraps. Canned programs brought to us by well-paid “experts” with no skin in the game bother me. 

For a whole lot less money, we could pay down the rest of some of our vacant business space, offer up a free year’s rent for anyone wanting to start a business and have a contest to be judged by the current business owners based on a business plan provided by the contestants. 

We have the people here who could assist a start-up business to get them over the rough spots. In the end, a business that fills up a vacant space will provide foot traffic for that year. if the business works out, great! We could incubate businesses till all the space is full! 

How should the city handle the re-zoning process when it comes to residential development? The first order of business should be drainage in new developments. We need storm sewers and capacity before we go further. 

When it comes to re-zoning of property, there should be signs posted along the street where that re-zoning is taking place so neighbors will know what’s coming and when the meetings are if they have questions. 

How should the City of Monticello use and disperse its hotel/motel tax? Should entities such as Jones County Tourism and the Monticello Chamber be allowed a piece of the pie? These taxes come from those using our hotels and only half the money is to be used for tourism; the other half becomes money the city can use wherever they like. Over the years, we have collected plenty of taxes, which were wasted on a sign that we couldn’t advertise on. We could have had a tourist office in place bringing people here all this time, and signs directing people to that office. 

The Chamber can get its piece of the pie from the half the city already gets. 

Additional comments: I am retired and moved back to Monticello where both my wife and I grew up. In the past, I was a board member of the Hawkeye Community Action Program for five years; I was a member of the Linn County Commission of Veterans Affairs for three years. I was largely responsible for bringing a vet center satellite to Cedar Rapids. I graduated from Kirkwood after spending two years in Vietnam as a helicopter repairman. My working career was in manufacturing and operating technical equipment such as full-sheet laser tables and NC/ DNC punch presses. I changes directions late in life and became a field archaeologist; one of my highlights was working on Bowen’s Prairie just north of Monticello. The German tourists coming to Monticello is one of my pet projects. 


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