NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa — Mayor Pro Tem Gerry Kuhl said North Liberty mayor Tom Salm died Sunday of a heart attack. Kuhl described Salm as a guy who he could fish with, and an excellent leader.
“He was a happy person. He had the city on a course of progress. He was open to ideas. There’s not hardly a better man around than Tom,” Kuhl said.
Coralville Mayor John Lundell said Salm was a good friend. Their cities share a border and many of the same issues, particularly rapid growth in recent years.
“He was a great guy,” Lundell said. “To lose someone so suddenly like this was just a shocker.”
City Administrator Ryan Heiar said he started working with the mayor in 2007. He said, to him, Tom was a mentor.
“I was still fairly young. I was 29 when I came here and he just was always there to be supportive,” Heiar said. “He was one of North Liberty’s biggest cheerleaders. We’re devastated,”
Voters re-elected Salm, 61, in November with 82% of the vote, according to online election records from the Johnson County Auditor.
A statement from the city said Salm was first elected mayor in April 2007 after the city council appointed him to fill a vacancy until the November election. He was elected in the fall and 2009 in addition to last year.
His term was set to expire at the end of 2018. The city says Kuhl, who was also re-elected in November, will serve as mayor until the city council decides how to fill the position. Possible options include short-term appointment or special election.
In addition to his time as mayor, Salm worked as a project manager for Terracon, an engineering firm. He started with the company in 1970 and focused on geotechnical and environmental projects, according to his LinkedIn profile.