116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Hiawatha’s longtime City Manager Kim Downs has announced she will be joining the city of Marion as deputy city manager in September.
Downs, who’s held the Hiawatha post since 2013, will be joining Marion City Manager Ryan Waller’s “Team Marion” on Sept. 6. Her last day in Hiawatha is Sept. 2.
The Marion City Council must approve Downs’ contract at its next meeting, with a salary of $162,100 proposed.
“I am excited for the opportunity to continue to play another role in a metro community I have grown to love,” Downs said. “Over the years, I have worked closely with Marion and have always been impressed with the drive to enhance the community through partnerships and innovation.”
Downs has 22 years of local government experience. In her current role as Hiawatha’s city manager, she oversees the daily operations of all city departments, including budget development, capital improvement plans and economic development.
She was named Iowa City Manager of the Year in 2020.
“It has been an honor to represent the Hiawatha community and our employees,” Downs said. “I am proud of what our city, team and community members have been able to accomplish in the past 17 years. I continue to be inspired by the strong spirit of our Hiawatha team, its volunteers and our community.”
A former social worker, Downs became Hiawatha’s city clerk in 2005, holding that job for eight years. During that time, she obtained Master Municipal Clerk designation and implemented many best practices for efficient city government.
She obtained her bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary administration from Mount Mercy University in 2008 and in 2016 earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Dubuque.
In 2013, she became Hiawatha’s city manager, the first woman to hold that job in the city.
Downs led the city of around 7,500 through the 2020 derecho and has championed the metrowide Tower Terrace Road project, now under construction with a new interchange planned at Interstate 380.
Her departure comes at a time of growth for the city, which recently added a new plaza at City Hall, is planning for a second fire station and is seeing residential and commercial investment along Tower Terrace Road.
The Hiawatha City Council is set to meet next Wednesday and decide on an interim city manager and next steps.
“Kim Downs has unmatched energy and she leaves behind big shoes to fill,” Hiawatha Mayor Bill Bennett said. “She has been a great asset for Hiawatha, and we wish her and her family the best.”
Marion City Manager Waller said Downs “is a highly collaborative and well-respected leader in the region. We are thrilled to have her join Team Marion and help take our organization and this community to the next level.”
Waller has been Marion’s city manager since November, when he succeeded Lon Pluckhahn, city manager for 14 years, who left to become deputy city manager in Vancouver, Wash.
The deputy city manager’s position has been vacant since 2019, when the city filled other positions linked to the pandemic and derecho recovery.
Kirsten Fisher, Marion’s director of human resources, said 72 people applied for the deputy city manager’s position.
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