New Decorah City Manager Travis Goedken began his work in city hall Monday, Sept. 13. And regarding what he’s been up to, Goedken responded, “What don’t I have going on is a much shorter list.”
Between working in city hall, being a father of four kids (strewn across three school buildings in Decorah), finishing his move to Decorah and still remodeling his house in Humboldt, the man is occupied. “I’m excited to meet with community members … but I might need a little patience as things settle down.”
Goedken is handling the load well, however. He arrived in Decorah on Sept. 12 at 8 p.m., and the next morning was in the office getting to work. In his first week – which he called “crazy” – he presented at the Iowa League of Cities Annual Conference. And from there he dove into the process of transitioning to Decorah.
“This early phase is very much going to be listen and learn,” said Goedken. Recently, he has been meeting individually with all the department heads and council members, getting acclimated to the way things work on Claiborne Drive. He noted that he wants to learn the existing practices, then begin to operate fully once he knows how everything works. However, he stated, “It’s still business as usual. [I’m] absolutely not putting the brakes on by any means.” A recent project of his involved meeting with the county supervisors to discuss the MetroNet fiber internet project in Decorah.
As for the social side of his move to Decorah, Goedken explained that the response he and his family have gotten from the community “phenomenal” and “crazy.” Having only been here for a few weeks, Goedken said, “The community’s outreach has been nothing short of amazing.” That relationship with community is obviously very important, to which Goedken said he is “looking forward to building and fostering relationships.” On the same note, he explained that was what brought him a lot of success in Humboldt. “It wasn’t the city of Humboldt accomplishing it, it was a collaborative effort.”
And collaboration is a big part of the position of City Manager. While the Mayor and City Council are who formulate policy and decide the route they’d like the city to take, Goedken is in charge of figuring out how to make that happen. That involves working with department heads, officials and citizens alike. “I can work with anyone and everyone,” said Goedken. And, so far, that has been happening, as Goedken said “It’s been a very promising transition.”
“I cannot emphasize enough, the reception here has been great,” Goedken exclaimed. “It’s been unreal, almost to the point that I’m getting worried,” he joked.