The Fort Dodge City Council is hampered by an unwillingness to compromise among some of its members, Councilman Kim Alstott said Wednesday.
Alstott's assessment of the council came during a meeting he held in the Fort Dodge Public Library to allow members of the public to ask him questions about city issues. But very early in the session, he expressed his misgivings about the status of the governing body.
"I would like to see the council talking with each other," he said. "I don't like the divisiveness."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge City Councilman Kim Alstott, right, talks Wednesday morning during a question and answer session held at the Fort Dodge Public Library.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jacque Johanson, left, and her mother, Joan Johanson, listen to Fort Dodge City Councilman Kim Alstott Wednesday morning during a question and answer session at the Fort Dodge Public Library.
"There's room to compromise on some of these issues, but I don't see that being done," Alstott added.
When one of the six people in attendance asked why compromises aren't being reached among council members, Alstott replied, "They want what they want and they're not going to budge."
Alstott recalled that during the 2011 election campaign in which he won the 4th Ward council seat, some candidates complained that previous council members were focused on their own agenda, and excluded other ideas.
"But now we have this new group doing exactly the same thing they complained about the old group doing," he said.
The council's bickering could hurt the city at a time when Cargill and CJ Bio America are poised launch a new era of local manufacturing, according to Alstott.
"If we get manufacturing in here, it's going to change everything," he said. "Once you get manufacturing in Fort Dodge, everything else comes on the back of it. People won't recognize Fort Dodge in a number of years."
Mayor Matt Bemrich was the only elected official Alstott mentioned by name. He complimented the mayor on his willingness to work with others.
"Matt's pretty sharp," he said.
Alstott's comments drew a sharp reaction from Councilman Don Wilson.
"This council doesn't fall off both sides of the fence like he has done," Wilson said Wednesday afternoon.
Wilson said the current council majority that Alstott was once affiliated with is trying to implement the long-range Envision 2030 plan without adding to the city's debt.
"We're doing things in a responsible way and we're doing it with the money we have," he said.
Councilman Andy Fritz said he's seen Alstott's approach to his council role evolve since he took office in January. He said Alstott once wanted to get along with the council majority, which includes Dean Hill, Robert "Barney" Patterson Mark Taylor and Wilson.
"He doesn't want to be lumped in with that group anymore," Fritz said.
He said Alstott now understands the complexities of city government.
"I think he's feeling the frustration that I myself feel with the majority of the council," Fritz added.
Taylor and Councilman Dave Flattery declined to comment on Alstott's remarks.
"It's hard to respond to anything Kim says because you never know where he's coming from," Hill said.
He added that he believes the council is "accomplishing a lot."
A call seeking comment from Patterson wasn't returned Wednesday.