116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Even though it’s still spring, local election season is well on its way.
Four of Marion’s seven council members are up for election on Nov. 2, and three — Steve Jensen, Randy Strnad and Grant Harper — say they plan to run.
Council member Rene Gadelha told The Gazette she will not seek reelection. Gadelha was elected to the Ward 4 seat in 2017.
Gadelha said she has decided not to run again because of the responsibilities in her job as chancellor of the VictoryXR Academy, a school completely conducted in virtual reality “growing exponentially over the past 12 months.”
“This is primarily a positive thing,” Gadelha said. “But sadly, it involves quite a bit of schedule-juggling.”
Gadelha added that next year she still plans to serve the community in some voluntary capacity more aligned with her availability. She has served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Blue Zones Committee and the Linn-Mar school board.
Grant Harper, who was appointed to fill the seat of the late Paul Draper last year, said he will run for election in the fall. Harper ran against Draper in the 2019 election.
“As I committed during my appointment interview last May with the council, I shall run again to ensure a continuity of governance and direction on critical issues,” Harper told The Gazette. “With four of us having terms that expire at the end of the year, running again seemed to be important for that purpose.”
Harper was appointed to the City Council in May 2020 after Draper died three months into his third term.
Because of state code, Harper must run for a two-year term to reestablish the normal four-year cycle for the at-large seat he fills.
Harper served on the Planning and Zoning Commission before being appointed to the council.
Steve Jensen is seeking a second term. He holds the Ward 2 seat after being elected in 2017.
“It takes one to two years in City Council to gain a good understanding of the city operations, budget and strategic planning,” Jensen said. “I believe my background as a CPA, business executive and commercial loan officer has helped me be productive in my first term.”
Jensen added that Marion has shown steady growth and progress in achieving city goals over the last four years.
“There is much more to accomplish during my second term,” he said. “I have enjoyed representing the citizens of Marion.”
Jensen previously held positions with the Marion Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the YMCA.
Randy Strnad also told The Gazette he plans to run in the fall.
Strnad was appointed to the council to a term starting Jan. 1, 2016, taking the Ward 4 seat vacated by Nick AbouAssaly, who became mayor.
In 2017, Strnad ran successfully for an at-large seat.
Strnad previously served on the Marion Economic Vitality Committee and the Local Option Sales Tax Oversight Committee, and he has been a Marion Chamber board member. He is a past president of the Marion Firefighters Association and also serves as an on-call firefighter.
The seven-member council consists of a mayor, four ward seats and two at-large seats.