Allen Professor Elected Mayor of Iola


Paul Borcherding

Jon Wells, an educator at Allen Community College was recently elected the mayor of Iola.

Paul Borcherding, Video Editor

This past Tuesday, several new local officials have been elected to serve their communities all across the United States. For the city of Iola, Jon Wells was elected for the incumbent position of mayor of Iola. He has previously served for the Iola City Commission for four years and decided to run this year because the previous mayor, Joel Wicoff, was not.

This is a chance to organize and direct policy and vision.

— Jon Wells

The city commission is composed of nine members with one mayor and eight councilmen. The members of the council have equal powers and only the entire body can make or change policies. The mayor himself acts as a figurehead and runs the council’s meetings. He serves as a point of contact for the public and speaks at the city’s ceremonial events.

Something the city council does is waive policies in order to meet the needs of the community. For example, the council as a whole can waive fees for a nonprofit organization, or charitable groups. If these organizations want to use the town square for an event, the council can reduce the fees so the group can support their cause.

“There is a lot of leadership responsibility there (as mayor),” Wells said. “I figured this is a chance to organize and direct policy and vision.”

The mayor also works very closely with the city staff and administration. The city commission heavily relies on the city administrator, Sid Fleming, to help run the town. The administrator also helps oversee the people who work for the city.

One major issue Wells has been focused on is the energy policy. The city of Iola owns utilities such as gas, water, and electric. With each new generation of people, changes in how utilities are handled and used will need to be addressed. Wells stated that he wants to make sure these utilities will be available to serve the needs of a changing population.

Wells’ overall goal as mayor is to try to get younger people involved in the community. He believes that it is the younger population that decides where the community goes in the future. He encourages younger people to run for the council since there is no specific requirement like a degree.

“What makes the council work best is the more diversity you have,” Wells said. “For younger people, they think they don’t know enough to be on councils. Once you get out of college, think about running, because it’s about offering what you know to give back to the community.”