Van Stryland seeks reelection to Pella City Council

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Harold Van Stryland

Harold Van Stryland is seeking his third term to represent Ward 2 on the Pella City Council. Ward 2 is the northeast area of Pella.

One of the reasons Van Stryland is running again is because there are many developments going on in town, and he is eager to be a part of seeing them completed. Among these are new housing developments, the Lely expansion, the Tuttle Cabin Walk to Sunken Gardens and more. Though there is progress being made in the city, there is still more to do, Van Stryland believes.

“Pella needs more low/moderate housing,” Van Styland said. “It can be difficult for a single parent to buy affordable homes.” He added that a recent study showed that Pella will need 700 more homes by 2025.

Accomplishments the City has seen in his tenure include the new Jordan Well, the reverse osmosis water treatment plant and new playgrounds. Van Stryland has enjoyed working with the City’s staff, and heaped praise upon City Administrator Mike Nardini and Finance Director Corey Goodenow for their ability to keep a good handle on City funds.

Van Styland jokes that he’s also one of few people left in Pella that actually speaks Dutch. He really enjoys talking to visitors from overseas when they come to town.

With all of the new projects in development come demands for assistance from the City. Van Stryland believes striking a balance and find a way for the City to be supportive when and how it can. For instance, he says “you don’t always have that half a million there, half a million here.”

“I don’t want to throw taxes on people to fund every great idea,” Van Stryland said. There have been many great ideas, but the key is to prioritize them. He does not want to dismiss ideas, nor raise taxes.

The Community Center remains an issue, as the council has been tasked with choosing the building’s future. Van Stryland says it absolutely will need to be fixed, but maybe not in a single project. He expressed his disappointment in the City being forced to eliminate some programs, due to the lack of access to the gym.

“I think we can get that gym open again,” Van Stryland said. He said the council has begun to explore a two-facility approach. The outcry he has heard to preserve the Community Center is similar to Knoxville’s Save Our Stadium drive of years ago.

Van Stryland continues to receive emails regarding the South Central Regional Airport. He believes it will not be an issue for much longer.

Semi-retired from teaching since 2011, Van Stryland continues to be pulled back into a classroom at different times. He serves as a substitute for Pella, Knoxville and Lynnville-Sully Schools. Otherwise, his time is occupied running errands for his grandchildren.

“I’m freer now than ever to handle City duties,” Van Stryland said. “City council duties have been more demanding than when I was first elected.”

Van Stryland grew up in Clear Lake and attended Dordt College. He received is master’s degree from the University of Washington-Seattle. His career has included time in Seattle, Denver, working for the German government as a translator, teaching English and geography in a University of Germany prep school.

He came back to the Midwest to care for his father in South Dakota. After teaching two years there, he had the opportunity to come teach German at Pella Christian High School. He has now been here for 41 years, where he and his wife chose to retire.

If reelected, Van Stryland intends to spend a great deal of time on the telecommunications utility, expected to be up and running by 2021.

“There is definitely a learning curve to being a city council member,” Van Stryland said. “I hope they go with experienced incumbents.

Look for more on the election at www.marioncountytribune.com in the weeks to come. Be sure to attend the Tribune’s candidate forum Monday, Oct. 28, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the Community Center.