The community of Dawson, six miles west of Perry, is no stranger to youthful mayors. In 2009, a well-qualified high school senior was elected. In the November 2011 election, college junior Breanna Morman ran for and was elected mayor of Dawson; she took seat in January of 2012. It was not a hotly contested election in the town of 130.
"I ran unopposed, but still I campaigned and talked to people," Morman says. "We have an older community and a lot of these people watched me grow up. It was nice because they were so encouraging."
The citizens that elected the youthful Morman were also quite forthright about what they believe is most important to Dawson.
"We continue to focus on community beautification, because they expressed that as important," Morman says.
It is a successful and on-going effort. Now houses that had been empty for years are ready for market, sale and renovation.
"That is good for us as a city because we’ll benefit from the increased tax base," Morman says. "And it helps draw new families to town."
Beautification is especially important at this time because Dawson is on the new north loop of the Raccoon River Valley Trail. This 33-mile addition to the Raccoon River Valley Trail creates a 72-mile loop, considered the longest paved loop trail in the nation.
The trail’s June 1 grand opening celebration in Perry is expected to draw more than a thousand guests, and Dawson is one of the stops on the event’s bicycle Poker Ride. Contestants pedal out of Perry at 9 a.m., circle the loop and return with poker hands by 12:30 p.m.
Fundraising is another vital function for the mayor of this small community.
"The city can’t pay for everything," Morman says. "We have a water system, and this year the fire station and community building need to be re-sided and the roof needs to be patched."
Her electorate stands behind her, offering years of experience in barbecuing and baking, soup- and casserole-making … and eating. Soup luncheons and ice cream socials are traditional fund raisers. Last year the community hosted a Christmas ham dinner, and there will be homemade ice cream for the grand opening of the Raccoon River Valley Trail.
"Community involvement is really important, because we’re such a small town," Morman says. "When we have a fundraiser, we make up trays and take them to the people who can’t get out; we keep them involved."
Last year, Morman initiated a slowpitch softball tournament to raise funds for the Dawson Fire Department. Team sign-up fees and proceeds from food sales at the tournament, which is open to the public and held on May 11 this year, benefit Dawson.
Looking to the future for Dawson, Morman hopes to draw more families to the community. And her position as mayor?
"I love it," Morman says. "I’m finishing college right now and this is going to be where I live for the rest of my life."
It looks to be the start of another good run for Dawson.