Darter aims to move forward

Waterloo Mayor-elect Stan Darter

While a number of mail-in ballots have yet to be returned following voting last week, the results of the 2023 Waterloo mayoral election appear to be in, with outgoing alderman Stan Darter taking the baton from longtime mayor Tom Smith.

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean reported only 21 vote-by-mail ballots have been received since the polls closed last Tuesday night, and only seven of those are for Waterloo elections.  

Although the clerk’s office must legally wait two weeks to count any outstanding valid mail votes, McLean said last week he believes many of the outstanding vote-by-mail ballots will not be returned.

Vote-by-mail ballots had to have been postmarked by April 4 to qualify as acceptable.

The unofficial tally from last Tuesday remains unchanged, with Darter taking 1,570 votes to Smith’s 1,459.

“I’d like to thank my family, friends and the community of Waterloo for all of your support over the last 16 years,” Smith posted last week on Facebook. “It was an honor and privilege to serve as mayor of the town I call home. I’ve made lasting friendships and memories I will always hold onto. Be safe, take care of each other and no matter what life throws at you, hold on to your integrity!”

Originally from Campbell, Mo., Darter has served as Waterloo’s Ward III alderman since 2015. Earlier in his life, he served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

While not a Waterloo native, Darter has found a place for himself as part of various organizations in the community.

Along with his work on the city council, he’s served as a board member for eight years and is past president and current board secretary of Human Support Services.

He’s also a member of the Waterloo Optimist Club, a Waterloo VFW life member, a Waterloo American Legion Vice Commander and Clifftop life member.

Darter announced his campaign for mayor in August of last year, saying that “after 16 years, it’s time for a change.”

More recently, Darter explained his interest in the mayoral position started about a year and a half ago.

Though he emphasized his disinterest in digging up the past or being overly critical of the current mayor, Darter did further explain his main reason for running.

“Dissatisfaction with a single vision for the City of Waterloo as opposed to allowing new or different ideas to help run the city,” Darter said. “In addition to that, our city employees, a great number of our city employees were very unhappy… I don’t wish to be critical. In four years, somebody’s probably going to be critical of what I do.”

Darter also offered his reflections on the campaign of the last few months. On election night, he remarked that he ran a rather clean, positive campaign fueled almost entirely by his friends in the community.

With a week to further consider how the April 4 election went, Darter noted how certain aspects of the race were polarizing for some.

“I think the campaign basically was like any normal campaign in that there were probably good parts to it and bad, some hurt feelings, and that’s probably always going to happen along the way,” Darter said. “Hopefully any hurt feelings can be repaired.”

Darter added that he’s currently focused on the future. 

While some in Waterloo might not be eager to work with him, Darter said he’s hopeful about establishing or improving relationships with those in the community.

Darter further expressed his praise for Smith and the outgoing mayor’s work over the years. He previously spoke about how he intends to continue with the current positive direction of the city.

“I may be over-optimistic, but I believe that, given some time, all of that can be resolved,” Darter said. “Tom Smith was a good mayor for a long time. He did a lot of good things for Waterloo. And I believe that, moving forward, we can also do more.”

As far as plans for Waterloo go, one area of concern for Darter is improving the city’s day-to-day operations with some substantial technology upgrades.

Darter specifically described how Waterloo’s utilities, while managed with digital geographic information systems, are handled by utility workers using books that need to be regularly updated.

He would like to see this system updated, with city employees able to use tablets or computers for instant access to a map of the city’s utilities.

Darter said another focus for him is infrastructure and various other projects throughout the city.

He mentioned improving the city’s alleys, among other features, adding that while the city has the resources for these projects, they will still likely end up as long-term due to the amount of work that needs to be done.

“We have lots of ongoing projects, the water plant being one of them,” Darter said. “All of those projects will move forward. The infrastructure changes that I want to do, those are all long-term projects.”

Darter also spoke about the recent controversy surrounding Waterloo’s three police commissioners who suddenly resigned in January.

While he said he couldn’t discuss much of that situation as it has largely been discussed during closed session, he did say the matter seems to have smoothed over.

“Tom has appointed three new police commissioners,” Darter said. “Unless something comes up that I don’t know about, I believe that situation is handled at this point in time.”

In regard to more immediate plans, Darter said his focus is on relationships within the community and moving forward with employees at City Hall.

“We have some relationships within the community, with our business partners and with organizations that need to be repaired, but past that I don’t think you would see any huge changes,” Darter said. “(I’ll) introduce myself to everyone and see if we can get a good working relationship within the community.”

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Andrew Unverferth

HTC web