The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Don’t forget mayoral prospect Gary Hinzman; he asks ethics board if a city employee must quit should a relative become mayor or council member

In City Hall, Gary Hinzman on May 6, 2009 at 9:14 am

Don’t forget about mayoral prospect Gary Hinzman, long-time director of the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services and a former Cedar Rapids police chief.

In a talk with Hinzman on Wednesday, it was clear Hinzman isn’t going to let some successful fund-raising by mayoral candidate Ron Corbett, a former Republican speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, or comments this week about possible mayoral interest from Linn County Supervisor Linda Langston, a Democrat, stop him from considering a mayoral run.

Nor will Tuesday’s news that mayoral prospect and City Council member Monica Vernon has moved from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

Hinzman noted that his plan, if he does decide to run for mayor, is to shoot right down the middle and run as an independent and as an agency director who he says knows how to get things done. After all, elective city office is non-partisan, he said.

A call to Hinzman this week was prompted by an announcement that the city’s Board of Ethics – the only such local board in Iowa – will convene at noon Thursday to take up an issue first raised by Hinzman in an e-mail to the ethics board.

Hinzman on Wednesday said he wants to make sure that there would be no conflicts, should he become mayor, with having his wife and daughter working for the city and him serving as part-time mayor.

His wife, Linda, is a financial analyst in the city Finance Department and their daughter, Paula, is a supervisor in the city’s Housing Services office.

Hinzman said the ethics board will consider issuing an advisory opinion on the matter.

He said he just wants to have an answer should he be queried about it in the future, though, he said he suspects that city employees would not need to give up their jobs should relatives get elected to the City Council.

At the same time, Hinzman said he is making sure he can direct a state agency at the same time as he might be mayor. He is fairly sure he can do that, too. He points to Eugene Meyer, now head of the Iowa Department of Public Safety, who served as mayor of West Des Moines while head of the state’s Division of Criminal Investigation.

As for getting in the mayoral race, Hinzman said there is some value for now in sitting on the sidelines. One fear, he said, is that the political parties will commit huge resources to party candidates and make it tough for a non-partisan candidate to compete.

Hinzman said a smart candidate with half as much money as the big spenders can compete. Staying on the sidelines now will lessen the amount of money a campaign will need to raise, he said.

Two weeks ago, Corbett, vice president at trucking firm CRST Inc., reported that he had already raised some $42,000, nearly the amount that each of the candidates spent in the 2005 mayoral race.

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