If not for the fact that no official records exist that chronicle the terms of everyone who has ever served as mayor of an Iowa town, Milt Kramer, mayor of Manchester, might be able to lay claim to the title of the state’s longest-serving.
Kramer, or “Mayor Milt” as he is known to Manchester residents, has brought consistency, civic visibility and longevity to the seat since he was first elected Sept. 19, 1974. He has served 13 terms since that, and his 14th term expires in 2021.
Kramer grew up in Elkader, where he began honing his work ethic with two younger brothers on a small farm. He graduated from Luther College in 1959, after putting himself through college by working for a construction company. Following a four-year teaching stint at Fayette High School, he moved to Manchester in 1963 and has remained a fixture ever since.
Kramer taught in the West Delaware County Community School District for 34 years, beginning in 1963 and lasting until his retirement in 1997.
His career in city politics began in 1969, when he was encouraged to run for city council in Manchester. During Kramer’s third term as a councilman, the existing mayor passed away and Kramer was appointed to succeed him. The long-standing mayor joked, “Apparently there is only one way to get out of the job.”
Kramer considers himself privileged to have worked on many city projects. His most memorable include the development of the industrial park, street improvement projects, the development of the parks & recreation program, development of the City’s compost site, various library and park improvements and the ongoing development of the police and fire departments.
Kramer also busies himself working part-time with Murdoch Funeral Homes, but also maintains balance in his life by sharing his days with his wife, Joanne. Together they dote on seven grandchildren, as well as their first great-grandchild.
A community pillar, Kramer has dedicated countless public service hours to the community, where his extensive list of accomplishments has also garnered him some awards, including “Outstanding Educator of the Year” from the Manchester Jaycees (1969), “Distinguished Service Award” from the Manchester Jaycees (1973), “Outstanding Citizen Award” from the Manchester Jaycees (1976) and “Person of the Year” from the Manchester Chamber of Commerce (1987).
In 2016, Kramer was inducted into the Iowa League of Cities Hall of Fame.
“Being mayor has been a very rewarding job and I enjoy it,” Kramer said. “Manchester is a very progressive, forward-looking community. I visit the schools on a weekly basis and attend many meetings and activities. I am the type of person that has to be busy.”