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Marion Mayor Bouska Survives Residency Challenge
By Trish Mehaffey and Jill Kasparie, Reporters
MARION, Iowa - Marion Mayor Allen "Snooks" Bouska remains the Mayor.
The Marion City Council determined Bouska meets the residency requirements according to state law.
"I want to thank all my supporters and my wife, who has gone through all of this with me," Bouska said after the vote. "This was humbling experience, to say the least, and I wouldn't wish this on anyone else. I feel like I was elected a third time and this is my first term. I hope this subtly addresses how focused and firm in my resolve I am (as mayor)."
"Citizens for a Better Marion," submitted a petition signed by more than 100 people to the Marion City Council last month to determine if Bouska meets the residency requirements of elected officials according to Iowa law. Jodi Treharne, who submitted the petition at the December council meeting, said the group disputed his residency and he's violating the law.
The hearing, which lasted about three hours, was loosely conducted like a trial with opening statements, presentation of evidence with witnesses and closing arguments. The council also allowed some public comment from those in the audience who had facts of the case, which isn't normal procedure of a trial.
The council chamber was standing room only with a large overflow in the lobby of city hall. There were a few outbursts of clapping and laughter during the hearing but for the most part councilman Joe Spinks, who was acting as moderator, kept the audience in line and the hearing on track.
The council went into closed session just after 9 p.m. to deliberate butcame back out about 50 minutes later to announce there was no vacancy issue and voted to retain Bouska. Most of the audience stayed and clapped after the vote.
During the hearing, a private investigator, hired by Citizens, told the council that Bouska was seen at his house in Hiawatha on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but he couldn't say where Bouska was when he wasn't at the Hiawatha home.
Bouska's wife, Vicki Bouska, also testified during the hearing to determine if the mayor meets the residency requirements that she lives at 150 N. 19th Ave. in Hiawatha, and the her husband's address was 240 Agate St. in Marion. She said he stayed at the Marion address "all the time and for a long time," which includes overnight.
Bouska then testified his residence was at the Marion home. He admitted to spending the night at the Hiawatha home for Thanksgiving but added that he lived in Marion about 70 percent of the time.
Landon DuFoe, attorney for the Citizens, presented several exhibits of Bouska's mortgages and documents filed in small claims court that listed Bouska's residence or address at the one in Hiawatha.
Bouska said most of his properties are listed under the his business or corporate address, which is the Hiawatha property. Bouska said his Marion address is listed on his voter's registration, his driver's license, a gun permit, his city employee identification card, his W-2 from the city and the letter notifying of this hearing was sent to his Marion address.
James Kotrba, who lives at 2141 Agate St. in Marion, which is across the street from Bouska, testified that he sees Bouska at his Marion home on a "regular and frequent" basis. Kotrba said he could be a "hostile" witness because he has more reason to not like the mayor than anyone because the mayor outbid him on the 240 Agate home. Kotrba put down $2,000 on the house before Bouska snatch it away and Kotrba had to pay $20,000 more for his property.
Another neighbor, Gail McCoughlin, 2021 Agate St. in Marion, testified she sees Bouska at his Marion home various times of the day. She sees him shoveling his driveway and sidewalks, and he even helps shovels the neighbors sidewalks at times.
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller testified Bouska was a registered voter in Marion. He said nobody had challenged the mayor's voter's registration.
Bill Roemerman, Bouska's attorney, said in his closing statement that the Citizens failed to meet their burden of proof. There's no evidence that his residence is in Hiawatha. He lives in Marion. He added that it wouldn't matter if Bouska did have two residences because according to Iowa law he can own more than one residence.
DuFoe in his closing said this wasn't a personal attack. It was a "fact finding process" to determine Bouska's residency and the evidence shows that Bouska lives in Hiawatha.
Bouska's residency was first questioned when he ran for mayor in 2011, but a city panel ruled Bouska's apartment qualified him to run.