There’s no shortage of Waukee residents who want to contribute to the growth and development of their community. But it’s no small thing to take the big leap into public leadership—making the decisions and guiding the city on the frontlines. Below, learn why three of our local leaders have chosen to serve our city.
Mayor Bill Peard
Bill Peard has been serving the city of Waukee for 18 years now, although serving as mayor wasn’t necessarily something he dreamed of for himself. “When my wife and I moved here, our son was nine months old,” he said. “As we got established and rooted down, I started helping out in different ways around the community.” Eventually, a friend of his suggested he run for city council, and his political career
began. When he reached his eighth year as a city council member, his friends and community members urged him to take the next step and run for mayor.
Mayor Peard didn’t have an agenda going into his service to the community, but he did have a vision. “We knew the school district was growing, and the city was going to follow suit,” he explained. “We had a really nice community back then and everyone knew each other. I wanted to see the sense of community continue despite the city growing and changing.”
Seldom do cities get to paint with a blank canvas, and Mayor Peard said that he’s been thrilled that the city of Waukee has had that opportunity. “Because we were seeing so much expansion, we started planning the community out and projecting into the future,” he said. “We planned well. We were a small town and we had assets to develop, and I think Waukee will be, and already is in some ways, the envy of other communities in the Midwest.”
In eight years on the city council and 11 years as mayor, Mayor Peard has learned at least one thing: “It’s not any one person that does it. It’s a lot of helping hands that make a community like ours,” he said. “What I’ve learned in leadership is to be inclusive and let people help. And to be thankful for the community leaders
and members of the community who have been very patient and supportive of us.”
Mayor Peard feels there is much for the residents of Waukee to look forward to in the next few decades. “I’m excited to see how things turn out in the next five, ten, 15 years,” he said. “It’s been an absolute honor to have the trust of the people of this city, and I am honored and humbled by the people who continue to choose me for leadership.”
Council Member Anna Bergman
Anna Bergman is a lifelong Waukee resident, part of the demographic that has seen the boom firsthand. “We didn’t even have 400 people in our class when we graduated,” she laughs, thinking of the now-huge graduating classes in comparison. Her parents still live in Waukee, near Bergman Riding Academy, which she owns. (She has 11 horses now, and she gives riding lessons to 25 students every week.)
Bergman works as an attorney with an MBA, and she brings a unique perspective to the board. In her practice, she works with businesses on insurance claims, worker’s compensation and more. “Not unlike other people, I have a small business here. But I’m the only one who has gone through the Waukee school system. I’m younger and I don’t have a family yet, so I represent a demographic that wants to start their life in Waukee,” she said. “Twenty years down the road, it’s going to be people from my generation living here and growing their families and careers.”
Bergman still remembers what it was like when the only options for ice cream were in the Triangle or the video store. “We want to maintain that small-town feeling as we grow and expand,” she says.
Appointed to the board in July of 2016, Bergman has wanted to be involved in politics all her life. “I grew up in a family that was heavily involved, and I was taught the importance of being a leader,” she said. The state and local level affects people’s daily lives, she explained, and she’s excited about making a positive impact.
Bergman is looking forward to seeing the continued commercial development of the city, which she sees as the focal point of the future. “We used to take Hickman everywhere, and back then it was just cornfields and a barren roadside,” she said. “Now, it gives me goosebumps to think about the growth and change in the city, and to see the new businesses and commercial development. This is our town, and this is what it’s grown into.”
More than that, Bergman is excited about the people who come to Waukee to make it their home. “The kind of people who want to come here are genuinely good people,” she said. “And the businesses here are committed and invested in the community. There’s something about this community that is really cool to be a part of.”
Council Member Charles Bottenberg
Like Bergman, Charlie Bottenberg comes from a service-oriented family. “We were taught to get involved and make it happen; you don’t just sit back and complain,” he said. “The expectation was that if we didn’t like how things were, we should get involved and change it.”
Bottenberg explained that he draws a lot of inspiration from his father, who has served as a church councilman, a Cub Scouts leader and a sports coach.
Bottenberg and his family have called Waukee home since 2006, and he began thinking about running for city council in 2015. But with a new business, a young family and his service as Board Chair of the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce, he decided to wait until the time was right before adding more to his plate.
Bottenberg was sworn in on February 6, 2017. In the first few months of service, he took a “watch and learn” approach to better understand how the council works together to accomplish the business of the city. “I wanted the lay of the land before taking any action—especially mid-term, when there’s so much going on,” he said.
Because he’s an attorney who has represented businesses in front of city councils around the state, Bottenberg has a unique perspective on how city governments work. “I’ve stood at the podium and made presentations to a skeptical city council,” he said. “Now I have the opportunity to blend those experiences.”
One major item on Bottenberg’s wish list is to see the implementation of an aquatic center. “Right now, families have to go to swimming lessons at the pools in Clive or West Des Moines,” he said. “I’d like to see an aquatic center here so our citizens don’t have to use the facilities of another city.”
Bottenberg also wants to see accessible government. “I want people to feel like they can call or lodge a complaint to a city or government official and feel like they’re being heard,” he said.
Because of Waukee’s different waves of development and the blending of long-time residents and new residents, there are differing interests and opinions to take into account. “We need to do a good job getting a consensus on the needs of the city,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do, and we need the input of the people who live here. I encourage anyone who has an issue to discuss or an idea to share to pick up the phone or email me and let me know what’s going on.”