Silvius ready to lead Red Oak into the future
When the Red Oak City Council convenes again in January, it will be with several new faces at the helm, including newly-elected Red Oak Mayor Shawnna Silvius.
Silvius said it was the public and a lot of soul searching that finally led her to declare her candidacy.
“I went back and forth for about six months as I had to genuinely discern in my own mind and heart to ensure I was indeed driven by a higher motivation, that I was certain my intentions were for the right reasons with the right mindset. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had many people approach me, and in March it was suggested I consider running for city council or mayor. In my previous position with Montgomery County Development Corp., I felt confident that I knew what was needed to advance Red Oak and I knew the barriers could be overcome,” Silvius explained. “Red Oak has tremendous potential to flourish and grow. I understand the core issues behind our declining population and the direct correlation these have to our workforce and growth challenges. Challenges facing Red Oak include lack of housing, fiber optic broadband and available workforce, job creation, and business and population retention and growth. As mayor of Red Oak, I’m in a position to support and empower those who share the goals of addressing these issues.”
To prepare herself for the position, Silvius said she’s attended city council meetings consistently to gain knowledge and understanding of current issues since September and has started through the municipal leadership academy along with incoming council members Tim Fridolph and Brian Bills, and they will continue several more trainings, as well as learning from other programs and organizations.
“I’ve joined the Iowa Mayors Association and registered for several meetings in January and February. I’ve connected with the new mayors in our neighboring counties, and we all share a desire to collaborate and advance the Southwest Iowa regional area. I’ve met with city staff and outgoing mayor [Bill] Billings. I’ve met with the chamber and economic development directors as a strong partnership with them along with our county supervisors and investors are essential moving forward. I’ve begun actively advocating for Red Oak in conversations with our state and national leaders and vital state and federal agencies. I’m starting to meet with our county supervisors as well as other community leaders in Red Oak and across our county. All these connections must continue to build stronger relationships and partnerships,” commented Silvius.
In addition, Silvius said she toured the Prairie Fire Lofts project and met with the developer, and has a better understand the delays in the project and has offered her assistance if needed. Another aspect of her preparation to take over the position is identifying available monies to help with the city’s development.
“I’m familiarizing myself with some funding sources I know are applicable and have upcoming deadlines, so we are prepared. I’m reviewing Tax Increment Financing, from a city financing viewpoint, and familiarizing myself with other relevant legislative changes with city budgets and a variety of state programs. I will spend a great deal of time learning about this role, city perspectives, working with our city administration, and building stronger relationships and trust within the community,” said Silvius.
Silvius believes her experience in community and economic development gives her the knowledge, connections and understanding of what it takes to improve quality of life, create opportunities and grow the community. She said Red Oak presently has talented individuals in key positions, so her job is to help support them to do what they need to do to help the community move forward. She said she also stands behind the priorities and key topics she shared in her campaign platform, and it’s given her the confidence to address the changes that need to be made to positively impact the community. Silvius said there are several high-priority goals she’s set for herself for her first term.
“I want to focus on working with those who are passionately pursuing and willing to invest in these main five issues. To secure a plan and financing to finish buried fiber-delivered broadband to every home and business in Red Oak and make Montgomery County the first county in the country to be 100% 1-gig fiber optic; to help secure resources to support current housing initiatives and projects and encourage the development of a long-term housing plan; and to secure additional funding and support a plan to address critical and essential infrastructure improvements and maintenance; create a community culture that encourages positive synergy bringing people together to accomplish shared goals; create opportunities for those struggling to improve their quality of life and contribute to the success of our community; and advance Red Oak into a position that recognizes our community as a regional leader because of the culture and synergy we’ve created. “
Also, Silvius said she’s looking forward to having the opportunity to work together with the council members who have served on the council for multiple terms.
“I feel we have an incredible council with diverse knowledge, experience, and interests with amazing skill sets and passion. I’m very excited and honored to serve our community along with them.,” Silvius said.
She also said she felt truly humbled and blessed to have had such a remarkable showing of support from our community.
“ I look forward to seeing that support grow as we are committed to serve the citizens and community of Red Oak. Brian and Tim bring incredible leadership to the council and we’ve all listened to our constituents, paying special attention to what they shared and feel matters. They also have a business mindset. They possess a solid foundation to represent the city’s best interests while serving our constituents. This support is especially critical when issues are highly controversial. We need, welcome, and invite your input more than ever when you have concerns or ideas. We represent you, so we invite you to contact any councilperson or me anytime you have something you wish to discuss or share,” Silvius commented.
Silvius said she wanted to take one more opportunity to address the citizens of Red Oak prior to beginning her first term.
“I want you to know I’m encouraging our council to seek your input and ideas and be available to listen and discuss even controversial topics. What I ask of you, is to be patient with all of us, to come to us when you have issues, concerns, or ideas, and to understand that we all have different backgrounds and experiences that have shaped us and our opinions. With that said, it’s also acceptable to agree to disagree but to disagree on the issue, not judge or disrespect the person. An example I heard recently, we can agree to either like or hate liver and onions. But we don’t hate or dislike someone just because they like it,” Silvius stated. “I ask you all to look at issues this way and to seek first to understand, then be understood. Sometimes we don’t know our own motivations, so I challenge everyone to always look internally at “your why” and know our role is to make the best decision for the long term and for our people. That may mean we have to be open to alternatives. I’d like to think we all are committed to doing the right thing, the right way for the right reasons. I believe, if you sit down with someone you may have adversity with and openly discuss the issue and desired outcomes, you can find a resolve or compromise you can all live with. Sometimes, things take baby steps, multiple steps, or phases. Just be patient and know we are looking at the long-term. I’d also like to say that I hope to build greater trust, transparency, and unity.”
Silvius will be hosting a series of community listening/vision sessions beginning Jan. 15 specifically for young adults ages 16-25 at the FiveOne8 in downtown Red Oak from 4-6 p.m. Anyone interested should contact Silvius at firstname.lastname@example.org. Future sessions are yet to be set. From these, Silvius said she wants to look at a grassroots approach to community-wide strategic planning that will get all the community involved and engaged in the process and help the city develop our next strategies.
“As I’ve said in my campaign, “Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success!” - Henry Ford. I believe we are all called into our positions to serve; and we are all ready and anxious to work together and with critical partners to Build a healthier CommUNITY.”