ESTHERVILLE, Iowa (KCAU) — The Mayor of Estherville who announced his resignation the day before the election polls opened, will be working his final day Wednesday, and he says he hopes the work he has done in office follows through for the people of Estherville.
Mayor Joseph May served a two-year term, and as he reflected on his time there, he said he initially saw some things about Estherville that he liked and some things he wanted to change. He said he wanted to be a part of the solution and decided to run for Mayor. Though, things did not turn out as expected.
“Well, what I wanted to do is build a youth community center,” Mayor May said, “When COVID hit that kind of pushed everything back and our focus really became on, not just surviving COVID-19, but also thriving in the midst of it.”
May said his team worked on encouraging the city to social distance but also understanding that people have rights in what they want to do even in the middle of a pandemic. They began to focus on housing and he said they saw a multifamily housing complex being built along with a new pool for the city.
“We did more beautification in the city,” Mayor May said, “There were some grants that we gave out to businesses and we were so excited and thankful for Excel! Estherville, who really, really stepped up and did that.”
The Chamber of Commerce helped Mayor May do promotions for the city of Estherville, including Takeout Tuesday where citizens support local businesses. He said their efforts helped keep all businesses from shutting down while struggling with the pandemic.
May also said his term was filled with political and racial tension, and they worked to bring information to the citizens to better help them understand where the ‘angst’ was coming from.
“There was so much division that we saw in the country, in the world,” May said, “We were two hours away from where George Floyd got shot, and so we just really worked with our police force who was just phenomenal.”
May said at the end of his term there was more awareness in the community, and celebration of individual cultures, “I think we came out changed for the better. We could have let the pandemic and all the political, racial tension make us all bitter towards one another but I believe we came out better because we refused to do that as a city.”
Mayor May said it feels bittersweet to leave the Estherville community, but his values are driving him to do what’s best for his family at this time. He said the hard part about it is not being able to see the outcome of the work he and his team put into the community, but he believes the city will be in the good hands of the City Council and City Manager.
There are no future political plans according to Mayor May because he wants to focus on his family and completing his doctorate degree while he pursues the new opportunities in Catholic Healthcare Ministry.
“Right now, I think a lot of people are just working to stay in office and that’s not good for any of us,” said Mayor May, “What is good for us is if we do what we said we would do. Be the voice of the people, and make decisions based on the people not based on the popular. So, I just hope that’s what we did in Estherville. We didn’t want to make decisions based on what everyone was saying we should do, we wanted to make a decision based on where we are now, where we’re heading, and what is for the betterment of all who are in Estherville.”
May said he hopes he restored the pride and joy of being in Estherville because he believes Estherville is a ‘wonderful’ city, and he will always love the city.
“You know, they say if you stay someplace seven years you technically are from there from that point on,” May said, “So, we’re technically now from Estherville, we’re technically Iowans, and to uproot is going to be difficult.”
May’s last official day as mayor is Wednesday, and he said he hopes his constituents feel he did a good job in that role. “It’s not up to me to determine that for them, so I love my city. I will always be Estherville strong. And as always, I would just tell my city to be good, be great, be Estherville strong.”