ORANGE CITY—While there are several contested municipal elections in N’West Iowa, one race in Orange City has garnered the most attention.
The ballot for mayor features incumbent Deb De Haan, the first woman to hold that position, and her challenger, Dr. Kurt Korver, a well-known ear, nose and throat specialist.
De Haan has served as mayor for six years and said she wants to continue promoting economic growth in the community.
“We want to continue to support development for increased retail,” De Haan said. “We’re very fortunate on our Main Street area that we do not have many empty storefronts, and the ones that are currently empty are going to be filled shortly.”
Addressing a shortage of affordable housing for workers in the city is another top priority De Haan has for the city. Although she said the city has built 170 new housing units in the last five years, there is still more work to be done.
“We have a ways to go yet, but if we can keep up with that increase, we should be on the right track,” she said.
Another project the city De Haan said the city has worked on under her watch is the recent expansion of the recreational trail system that connects the trail to the Dunlop Wildlife Area near Alton.
“We’ve had a lot of requests for that. There’s a lot of bikers, and those amenities are good for any community,” she said.
Korver, who grew up in Orange City, also seeks to promote economic growth as well as lowering taxes for residents and spending the city’s money wisely.
Korver graduated from Northwestern College in the 1980s and has practiced medicine in the community for the last 18 years. He said his family has roots in the city that extend back to its founding, which he cited as a reason he wanted to run for mayor.
“My forefathers were part of the founding of Orange City, and Orange City has always had high moral standards, hardworking, upright people,” he said.
“I have been very thankful for the leadership in our city in the past, and they certainly have done almost everything right, but at this point in time, with rapid cultural change, it’s also incumbent upon leadership to also stand up for the moral, Christian heritage of our community.”
Korver’s campaign has particularly expressed opposition to events such as OC Pride, an annual festival held in the city for the past three years that celebrates people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community.
“I plan to work with the highest-level attorneys in the country like Liberty Counsel and Alliance Defending Freedom so that we can preserve our rights in this community from a small group of activists that are receiving both national and state support,” he said.
Korver said he didn’t want to solely focus his moral opposition to OC Pride, however, and said he recognized its participants’ individual rights to promote their beliefs. He would similarly oppose other developments in the city that he said would conflict with the community’s moral values.
“No matter whether this was a group that was trying to start a strip joint on Main Street in Orange City or a movie theater that wanted to play X-rated movies or legalize marijuana or gambling, whatever the group is that the city leadership provides morals, of course, trying to maintain the moral values of the community,” Korver said.
He referenced the city’s municipal code and Iowa Code that aim to curb obscene behavior, which he argued would include events such as drag shows.
“If this was a group of just women wearing skimpy stuff and doing dancers and they weren’t drag queens, the law would also, of course, apply to that,” Korver said.
He previously has addressed the Orange City Council and the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees about his opposition to LGBTQ-themed books offered at the library.
However, Korver said he also has spoken out against other children’s books in the library he felt overly sexualized women and has pushed the library to add internet filters on the computers to prevent kids from accessing pornographic content.
On the topic of OC Pride, De Haan said the city does not endorse the annual festival but recognizes the group’s right to assemble.
“As a city, we have to also realize that we live in America, which is all about freedom,” De Haan said. “People have a right to gather, and they have a right to use city facilities.”
She also mentioned that the city in February updated the conduct policies for the Prairie Winds Event Center, which is where OC Pride holds many of its activities. The conduct policies, which the city consulted its legal counsel to help establish, are meant to prohibit lewd and inappropriate behavior.
“We really want all citizens of Orange City, no matter what their beliefs are, if they’re supporters of traditional marriage or same-sex marriage, to stand with us against any of these behaviors in our city-owned facilities,” she said.