Peter Johnson, a 2L student at the Creighton University School of Law, was elected mayor of Sidney, Iowa, Nov. 5.
The 27-year-old Sidney native was one of three write-in candidates seeking to replace incumbent mayor Paul Hutt, who will hand the gavel to Johnson at the end of December. Johnson received 62 percent of the mayoral vote, receiving 150 votes to the combined 92 votes received by his opponents.
Johnson, whose father, Jon, graduated from Creighton Law in 1977, says being elected mayor of his hometown was “special.”
“It’s a thrill,” he says. “I grew up in Sidney. I remember going to the city pool, the city library, growing up as a beneficiary of these services and facilities, so to have the town turn around — the teachers that taught me — and to win by such a margin, to have the town recognize your education and ability to do the job, in such a resounding way, was really something special for me.”
Johnson credited his years at Creighton’s law school for preparing him for public service.
“My education at the School of Law has emphasized service to others and a conscientious awareness of one’s effect on others,” he said. “The coursework at Creighton has given me skills and knowledge of the law and has also given context for me to effectively identify opportunities to use my education to serve others as the mayor of Sidney.”
Johnson said much work lies ahead helping the southwest Iowa city of 1,138 residents recover from the flooding of last spring. He says Sidney, along with Hamburg, which sits 10 miles to the south, was impacted by last spring’s spring flooding and must deal with large numbers of displaced people.
Housing, he says, is the immediate need.
“We have a lot of vacant lots spread evenly around the town, so we need to find a way to build affordable housing where the utilities are close,” he says. “We need to figure out a program, maybe with modular homes, at the same time addressing blighted properties before they affect the property values of the houses around them.”
In addition, he says, Sidney must prepare for the future.
“Our website was built 20 years ago,” he says. “If we’re going to market ourselves as the town of tomorrow, the town of choice, we really need to show people that we’re going to be there in 2050. If towns like mine are going to survive, it will depend on their ability to attract people like me — 27 years old, educated and looking to start a family soon.”