Three days after last Tuesday’s election, Marty Chitty walked into the Story County Board of Supervisors office wearing jeans (casual Friday after all), a nice sweater and a smile. And on top of it all, he wore a faded green DuPont/Pioneer farm sweatshirt to keep out the cold.
That farm sweatshirt said more about Chitty and the election than one might think at first glance, because a few minutes into the conversation about how he felt about losing the 2018 supervisors’ election, Chitty, born and raised on his family’s farm just outside of Nevada, wasn’t bitter or mad.
About Linda Murken of Ames, the person who won his seat, he said: “There was no acrimony… We were two Iowa farm kids trying to act in ways that would make their parents proud… We were Iowa Nice.”
The hardest thing for Chitty in losing this election is that in a month and a half, he’ll have to walk away from something he has truly loved doing.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do a job that takes me into learning more about the communities and county leaders that I’ve known my whole life. And to advocate on their behalf, was pretty special,” he said.
It isn’t only that he’s a native of Story County that helps him know a lot of people; he also drove a Fed Ex route here for 25 years. In fact, when he first became a supervisor, there was a transition, he said, from being people’s Fed Ex driver to being their supervisor.
Many know that Chitty came into the position of supervisor in an unfortunate way. He applied for it — along with about 15 others — and was chosen as the appointee after his good friend, Paul Toot, suddenly and unexpectedly died while he was a supervisor. Chitty’s appointment began May 31, 2016, and at that time he was still serving as president of the Nevada school board, another elected position that he continued to see through until Nevada’s graduation Sunday in May of 2017. “When they (the seniors) left as alumni, I did too,” he recalled. From there he focused on his supervisor’s role, which he’d been formally elected to in November of 2016 for the remainder of Toot’s term.
Chitty will tell you, it’s been two-and-a-half years of learning. “I’ve had the opportunity to apply the knowledge that was applied to me,” he said. “From day one, I was an acting supervisor and I found it to be of great importance and interest.” That knowledge that was applied to him, he said, came from two supervisors, Rick Sanders, current chair of the board, who was re-elected last week, and Wayne Clinton, no longer serving on the board. Chitty has a great deal of respect for both men and for what they’ve taught him.
“A Story County Supervisor does some very special things,” Chitty said.
One thing laying on his desk is a calendar with all the meetings of city councils and school boards in the county listed on it. Many of those meetings are held at the same time, but getting out to as many of those as he could was a big part of what Chitty loved doing as a supervisor.
“You’ve got to go to the communities and hear their stories … and it works,” he said, about the fact that by going to these meetings you learn more about each entity. “They have comfort when you’re in their surroundings.”
To the best of his recollection, he said, he was able to make it to every city council meeting in the county at least once, with the exceptions of Slater and Kelley. He made it to some more than once, and he went to a number of school board meetings in the county, he said, further explaining that much the decision of where he attended meetings, when so many happened at the same time, was “content driven” — something on the agenda seemed important for him to learn about as a supervisor.
Now, Chitty, at age 60, is faced with figuring out what he’ll do next.
“Right now, I’m exploring possibilities here in Story County,” he said, noting that he’s fully retired and drawing a pension from Fed Ex, so while many have asked if he’ll go back there, he isn’t planning on that. From all he’s learned in helping to lead the county, he feels there are definitely positions where his knowledge could be valuable.
“I’ve had numerous outreaches … I think I’ll have some choices,” he said.
And he’s feeling no pressure. “I have the luxury of time from Tuesday’s election until I’m out (of the supervisor position) to find something meaningful to do.”
He also doesn’t totally discount the idea of running for supervisor again. But he doesn’t want to commit to doing that yet either.
One piece of advice he plans to take from Sanders, he said, is when he finds that next thing he’s going to do, he should dive into that and really disengage from what he did as a supervisor for at least six months. “I need to give it (whatever he does next) a chance and see if it’s something that maybe I’m meant to do for awhile,” he said, before making any decision about running again for the Story County Board of Supervisors.
About running again, “that’s a decision I’ll make down the road,” Chitty said. But he’s already had supporters who say they will help him do that in the future if he decides to, he noted.
For now, Chitty said he wishes good will and good fortune for Story County, and that includes his replacement Murken. “I’ve come to know Linda through the appointment process and two election cycles. I think she has the skill set and desire to make an effective supervisor. I want to wish her the very best, as she once did to me.”
When it comes to all those who are supervisors, Chitty, with what he’s learned, has a little advice. “What you do as a supervisor is too important to have it be about personal issues… To be the best supervisor you can be in Story County, you have to do so in a nonpolitical manner. Every citizen in Story County is important as the next one.”
For the next month and a half, Chitty will continue to serve every citizen, while he thinks about his future.
“I think I will be fine,” he said with that big Chitty smile. “I don’t know what that (future) is or where that is … but I will be fine.”