Hobart and Rochester reflect on city council service
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Both, wanted to serve and make the city they grew up in a better place. With progress under Mike Hobart and Aaron Rochester's leadership, the outgoing council members also faced criticism from constituents and each other.
"I was mad as hell, and I wasn't gonna take it anymore," said Mike Hobart. He jumped into the race for mayor four years ago after local leaders gave financial help to lure another hotel downtown. "I felt so strongly that it was a wrong decision by the city council," he said.
Hobart was the first directly elected mayor of Sioux City in more than 50-years. Being mayor brought pride, but also pain. "I never expected I would become as newsworthy as I was."
An absent mayor to some. "I must admit that it sort of took me back a little bit," said Hobart.
Criticized for being out of town when his city needed him the most. Hobart says the job was more time consuming than he expected.
"I put my law license on inactive status, my real estate license on inactive status, so I could be there," he said. "I never missed a meeting, or I missed a few, but it was very few."
He was formally admonished by his fellow council members. "That probably hurt the most."
But, quickly learned being mayor didn't give him a mandate. Hobart said, "I believe there was a lot of resistance on the council to the new mayor."
Often joining Hobart in the hot seat, council member Aaron Rochester. "I did not come in here with a religious agenda, I'm a Christian conservative who just wanted to do the right thing," said Rochester.
And to Rochester that meant affirming marriage as between a man and a woman. "I'm a very big advocate of traditional family," he said.
And pushing for spoken prayer before council meetings. "It's done all over the state, and I didn't think Sioux City was so weird that we couldn't do it here."
2008 through 2009 became the "dog days" at city hall, when passionate pet owners crowded council chambers Pit bulls were banished, vicious animals were given a second chance, and Rochester's dog Jake, who allegedly bit a neighbor, vanished from a cage at Animal Control. But, between the infighting and pet pandemonium progress was made.
Rochester said, "To be part of the solution for individual people in the city was probably the most satisfying."
Hobart said, "Try to represent as many people on issues as I could."
Taxes were lowered. "We had gone nine years raising taxes every year. So, my goal was to make sure we reversed that effect," said Rochester.
The mayor took a trip that took of personal significance. The veteran visited troops at Camp Shelby, as they prepared to head off to war.
"That made me realize how important it was to be the mayor," said Hobart. And it's a role he'll miss, especially the people.
He's thinking about going back to law or real estate, or perhaps trying a new career. "I thought about getting a CDL and driving a truck," he said.
And neither Hobart nor Rochester have ruled out another political run.
In the meantime, Rochester plans to apply for the Human Rights Commission and Hobart says he'll also be interested to volunteer on a city board.
Hobart will give his state of the city address on Tuesday.