Connie Behnken and Jeff Ogden are both vying for a four-year term as Manchester’s mayor. Both were given the opportunity to answer the following questions.

Connie Behnken

Q: Tell us some background information about yourself

A: My husband and I were born and raised in Manchester. Most of our family lives in the Manchester or greater Delaware county area. Manchester has been very good to me and my family throughout my lifetime. I love my hometown and find service to be the best way to give back to the community that has given me so many opportunities. I have served on the West Delaware School Board, been Friends of Music President, Hanson Auditorium Foundation Treasurer, McGee Brick School House Treasurer, City of Manchester Board of Adjustments, and two terms as the at-large councilperson.

Q: Why are you running for this seat?

A: I have thought about being mayor for 20-plus years. My goal remains the same as when I ran for the council: To help Manchester continue to be a progressive community where you want to work, live, raise your family and retire while being fiscally responsible, navigating state and federal regulations, and addressing the unknowns you cannot plan for. If elected, my role will change from being a voting member to being the ambassador for our community, promoting the council’s vision, collaborating with other city and county officials, and recommending individuals to our city committees and boards.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the challenges facing Iowans today, and as an elected official, how can you help Iowans facing those challenges?

A: Elected city officials can only address local issues and challenges. However, many of the challenges we face are a representation of decisions and policies made by our state and federal representation. In my opinion, the biggest challenge Iowa faces is retaining and attracting young families and people to our state. The Cedar Rapids Gazette recently reported that one-third of Iowa’s workforce retired out of the workforce after the pandemic. This will continue to be a nationwide dilemma. Family sizes have declined since the 1970s, resulting in less workers replacing the retiring baby boomers. We need to work with our state representatives, and young voters, to see how we can make Iowa a destination state for young working families as we compete with other states for workers. Manchester continues to invest in infrastructure to attract young people here with new housing, great schools and amenities that meet their generation’s interests. Bottom line, we need workers to support our current large and small businesses and attract new industries. In addition, we have to continue to focus on the needs and wants of our existing residents.

Q: Anything else you would like voters to know heading into the election?

A: It has been a privilege to serve as your councilperson. I feel Manchester is moving in the right direction, but there’s always room to improve. If elected mayor, I can only promise I will do the best job I can representing our great city. I will continue to advocate for jobs, housing, safety, diversity and teamwork while keeping our citizens’ short and long-term needs and resources in mind. My door will always be open and I value different viewpoints. I thank you for your past support and hope to serve you in the future.

Jeff Ogden

Q: Tell us some background information about yourself

A: I have lived in Manchester or rural Manchester for over 60 years. I graduated from West Delaware and worked alongside my dad in Ogden Well Drilling several years. I married a Delaware County gal, Diane Engelken, and we’ve made our home in Manchester, raised our three boys in Manchester and built a family business (Oasis Well & Pump) in Manchester. Manchester is home. Now we enjoy watching our grandchildren grow up in Manchester with their school activities, sports, county fair and community events. I enjoy spending time at our cabin in rural Manchester and I enjoy raising and training horses.

Q: Why are you running for this seat?

A: I have always had an interest in how city government works and an opinion about it. I spent some time on the city council and I found the work challenging and interesting, as well as frustrating at times, and always rewarding. Manchester is home; serving as mayor is another way I can invest in my community. A ballot with more than one name provides options for the voters and I encourage voters to have conversations with both candidates so you can make an informed decision about who gets your vote.

Q: In your opinion, what are some of the challenges facing Iowans today, and as an elected official, how can you help Iowans facing those challenges?

A: How do we keep kids in school, stores and restaurants open for business and factories and businesses operating at capacity during a pandemic? How do we keep Iowans working and having a life in their community? It’s vital to the economy of Iowa, as well as the well-being of all citizens. As an elected official, my responsibility would be to work with others to help Manchester maintain and recruit the right people and resources in leading the cause of keeping downtown Manchester and Delaware County, alive and thriving as a destination and a service center. This is beneficial for our citizens as well as all people looking for merchandise in our stores, good food in our restaurants, recreation in our parks, aquatic center, library, etc., and services in our banks, hospital, insurance agencies, doctor/dental offices, etc.

Q: Anything else you would like voters to know heading into the election?

A: Your vote for Jeff Ogden for mayor will be appreciated and put to good work by me. Manchester is home and I want to work together with the voters and community to help Manchester maintain and thrive. It is good for voters to have a choice on the ballot. I encourage voters to contact me, have a conversation with me about Manchester and make an informed decision about who to cast their vote for on Nov. 2.