Stamets retires as Red Oak city attorney after 22 years
After more than 20 years as the city attorney for Red Oak, Tom Stamets is retiring. Attorney Brianna Sorensen of Shenandoah has already been tapped as Stamet’s replacement. His last day as city attorney is Sept. 30.
Stamets has been practicing law for 47 years total. A native of Woodstock, Ill., Stamets attended St. Ambrose University in Davenport. It was in Davenport where he met his wife, Carrie, who was a student at Marycrest College. The two started dating when he was a senior and she a junior. They wed shortly after her graduation.
After teaching school for three years, Stamets was accepted into law school at Creighton University.
“I found the search for knowledge appealing. Finding the known from the unknown is a big puzzle and I found that fun,” he said.
Following law school, Stamets worked for a law firm in Webster City, where he was for three or four years. He then made arrangements to move to Red Oak and join Phil Armknecht at his law practice.
“Phil called and had second thoughts. We had already made arrangements to move here,” Stamets recalled. “We moved here anyway and started our own office. It was a real blessing for us.”
Stamets said he has never thought of himself as a risk taker, but looking back on that decision it was a pretty risky move. Especially since he and Carrie were parents to a toddler and newborn baby.
“I was confident I had learned enough in the practice I worked in previously to where I could at least run an office.”
But things weren’t easy for the young family. Stamets said they had to take out a loan to live off of while they got started. He also didn’t have the excess funds to hire a receptionist.
“It was a struggle for a while.”
Helping Stamets get started was Armknecht, fellow attorney LaVon Billings and the Montgomery County National Bank, which was his first client.
Since September 1997, Stamets and Wearin, P.C. has been located at 508 N. Fourth St. in Red Oak. Before that, Stamets first office was at 415 Coolbaugh St. and then 400 Coolbaugh St.
When Tom and Carrie’s youngest son started junior high, she started working at the office part-time and can still be found there today.
Technology has been the biggest change in law since Stamets started. He said years ago he spent countless hours in the law library conducting research. Today he can sit down at a computer and find the information in a fraction of the time.
Stamets replaced Bill Boeye as city attorney after Boeye’s retirement from the position in 2000.
A city attorney acts as legal council to officers of the city, including the city administrator, city council, law enforcement and mayor. New ordinances are written by the city attorney. They research the legality of ordinances, provide proposals and draft the final ordinance. They conduct simple misdemeanor prosecutions when city officers file a criminal charge against a defendant, and renders opinions to city officials with asked. They attend city council meetings when requested, are in charge of reporting certain matters to the state when needed and so forth.
Following his retirement as city attorney, Stamets and Joe Wearin willbe closing their practice Dec. 30, 2022. This is a decision the two of them have been discussing for close to a year, Stamets said.
The interaction with his clients, other legal counsel and professions is what Stamets will miss most. He added his career has been very rewarding and Red Oak has been a wonderful place to practice law and raise a family. He and Carrie plan to remain in Red Oak following retirement.