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Estherville elects May as mayor

Joseph May, director of Missions at Avera Holy Family Hospital and Army veteran, takes win

December 6, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

With just 14.29 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, Joseph May defeated city council member Ann Goebel with 371 votes to Goebel's 194, a margin of nearly two to one in the runoff election held Tuesday.

May captured 44 percent of the vote in November's general election, but with Goebel earning 28 percent and two other candidates amassing their portions no candidate earned the required 50 percent of the vote, making Tuesday's runoff election necessary.

May said he ran for mayor, "because I want to see Estherville thrive for the betterment of the community overall. But I cannot do this alone; it will take a collaborative effort of the city residents and politicians to see this come to fruition."

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May said housing is a major area of improvement for Estherville, and poor housing conditions may be a barrier to convincing major employers to locate in the city.

"We must also change our view of Estherville. There is a division in Estherville due to an "us vs. them" mentality," May said.

As a leader of city council, May said he would stress transparency and work to improve communication among officials, departments and community members.

"When residents are surprised by an unexpected move, it harms the community. Sudden changes that are poorly communicated will give the appearance that the council does not care," May said.

May said he is not afraid to challenge the city council if he feels they are in error.

"If I see the council navigating away from a decision that would help benefit Estherville, I will speak up and work to lead us back on course. But I would also say that the concerned citizens' opinions are valid as it appears to them that there has been no real change in Estherville," May said. May added that in his family's time in Estherville he has seen change, the kind of change he would like to see continue.

May is Estherville's first black mayor. The campaign generated a social media post with May's picture and a racially-insensitive comment. May said, "My family has since moved on from that, but used it as a teachable moment."

May said, "Much like Dr. Martin Luther King stated, 'We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.' So, we must respect each other's backgrounds, cultures, genders, races ethnicity, sex, political parties and age. We must seek the greater good together and not personal interest."

May is Director of Mission at Avera Holy Family Hospital, an army veteran, and Post Commander of American Legion Post 91.

He has worked as a pastor, and has given numerous prayers and invocations at events throughout the community.

May said the diversity of Estherville is one thing that makes it already great. "I have spoken to both the Republicans and Democrats of Emmet County. Even though they are divided on issues, I saw unity in their concern for the future of Estherville. Both want what is best for us, and both have ideas on how to get there," May said.

May stated he hopes local residents will "stay encouraged."



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