Another candidate has announced plans to run for the Nevada City Council. Luke Spence, 36, is going to enter the race for the Ward 2 seat.
Spence, an airline pilot, has lived in Nevada just over two years. But his wife, Stephanie (Welder) Spence, is a 2001 graduate of Nevada High School. “I started dating her in 2002, so Nevada has had an important spot in my heart since then,” he said. The Spences are raising their children — Jack, 10; Cameron, 7; and Meghan, 2 — here in Nevada, where they can be close to Stephanie’s parents, Beth and Mike Wagner, and her sister, Caroline.
“When Stephanie and I decided to move to Nevada, we did that knowing it was where we wanted to set down our roots and raise our kids. Knowing we are in the town our kids will grow up in, and where we hope to retire someday, I want to do whatever I can to contribute to Nevada’s success and ensure that it is a welcoming community for everyone,” Spence said.
Spence spent most of his childhood in Bettendorf, and then attended the University of Dubuque, where he got his bachelor’s degree in flight operations and aviation management. He also has a minor in business.
In his limited time living in Nevada, he has found ways to be involved. “I was recently appointed to the Library board of trustees. I’m excited to work with the board and library staff on improving an already great library,” Spence said. His family also attends Nevada United Methodist Church and Spence likes to help with his kids’ sports teams. “I was lucky to help coach baseball and always look forward to activities I can do with them, from the Scouts to chaperoning their field trips,” he said. As many know, his wife is the president of the PTA, so he said he often helps out with PTA events, as well.
As for what the city is doing well, Spence said there are a lot of positives. “I think the city leadership has a good vision on where it wants the city to go. Developing SCORE, continued development and a commitment to the success and vitality of our downtown area, progress on the community center … all of these things lead to creating a good quality of life in our town.”
But, like any community, there’s always more work to be done to improve. “I’d like to explore some way to promote affordable and accessible transportation between Nevada and other nearby communities. Compared to Ames, Nevada has very affordable housing, but it is not an option for many people because of lack of access to transportation for work or school. Finding solutions through HIRTA or CyRide to make Nevada more accessible to the rest of the county will be a goal of mine,” Spence said.
“I know our town struggles to keep police officers, and I’d like to work with the police department to find solutions to retaining officers. I also think that, while there are many nice homes in Nevada, there are some that could be improved. Our home is over 100 years old and, like many homes in Nevada, comes with its share of maintenance and upkeep, so I know how difficult it is to keep a house’s façade looking well. I’d like to find ways to assist homeowners who struggle with that upkeep — whether due to physical ability or financial reasons — so that we can all have homes and neighborhoods we are proud of,” he said.
As a father with young children, Spence said he’s definitely interested in the recent plans for a community wellness center. “I think it would be a great asset to Nevada that will make us a more attractive town to young families. I’m also interested in helping Nevada focus on downtown revitalization and bringing new businesses and families to our town. I will accomplish this through my pledge to visit every business and household in the Second Ward each year that I am on the Council, so that regular lines of communication are maintained and ideas and opinions can be discussed,” he said.
The opportunity to represent Ward 2 in Nevada is exciting to Spence. “I’m pledging to knock on every door in the ward, not just between now and election day, but every year that I am a member of the City Council,” he said, adding that communication links between the city leaders and citizens are the most important aspect of government to allow a community to thrive. “It (knocking on doors) gives me an opportunity to let the people of the Second Ward know what is going on in our town. More importantly, it will let me know what citizens want and expect, as well as gives them an opportunity to share new ideas for making Nevada the great city we all know it is.”
Even though residents in Ward 2 ultimately elect their next council representative, Spence said he’s excited to engage with all Nevada residents to accomplish a common goal — making Nevada a wonderful community. “I really love living in Nevada and want to work on continuing to create a community people want to live in,” he said.
By announcing his candidacy, Spence now joins Larry Sloan, who announced previously, so far in the race for the Ward 2 seat. The deadline to file petitions and affidavits to appear on the ballot for the city elections is Sept. 21. City elections will be held Nov. 7.