Davenport alderman at large Gene Meeker said he will not seek re-election when his term ends in December.
First elected in 2007, Meeker has served four two-years terms as one of Davenport’s two at-large aldermen.
“I’ve never pretended to be a professional politician,” Meeker said Saturday. “I’m at the end of eight years and I think that’s sufficient service.
“Even though it’s been great and I’ve enjoyed it, it’s time for somebody else to look at the city and do some good things."
Meeker and his wife, Nancy, moved to Davenport in 1993 when he was hired as executive director of the Downtown Davenport Development Corp. He retired as director of Davenport One’s Downtown Partnership Division in 2006 before running for alderman in 2007.
Before moving to Davenport, Meeker was president of the Chamber of Commerce in Mesa, Ariz. He also had been director of the Waterloo (Iowa) Chamber of Commerce.
Meeker said his decision not to run for re-election has a lot to do with his 12 grandchildren and two stepgrandchildren.
“I had to miss a lot of events with my grandchildren, and I don’t want to miss any more,” he said. “They’re all spread out. We have some in college and some in high school and some in grade school. Nancy and I want to be able to spend quality time with them.”
During his time on the council, Meeker served as council liaison to the Greater Davenport Development Corporation, RiverCenter advisory board, Levee Improvement Commission, Bi-State Regional Commission board and Bi-State Transit Authority board.
Meeker's city council colleagues praised his contributions to the community on Saturday.
“Gene has brought more economic development to the city of Davenport than people realize," Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, said. "It’s millions and millions of dollars. He’s highly respected in the economic development field.
“I’m disappointed he’s not going to run because he’s brought so much to the city,” Ambrose said. “I’ve learned a lot from him. He’s not only a great alderman; he’s a great husband, a great father and a great grandfather. You couldn’t find a better person than Gene.”
Jason Gordon, who fills the council's other at-large seat, said Meeker took an interest in the entire city.
“We don’t have the specific wards that other aldermen have so we have to get around to all the wards” Gordon said.
“Gene was a consistent Johnny-on-the-spot when it came to ward meetings, as he attended so many,” he said. “His presence on the council has been a real asset to the city, and he’s going to be missed.”
For Meeker, the sky was the limit when it came to development in Davenport, Gordon said.
“He believed in doing big things for the city,” he said. “Not everyone agrees with that all the time, but he was instrumental in moving forward a host of projects that have benefited the downtown area.
“When it comes to the redevelopment of the downtown, Gene’s always been at the front of the line,” he added.
Meeker said it is time the city move to four-year terms for aldermen rather than two-year terms.
“Two-year terms begin to take a toll, as elected officials are campaigning and expending so much time and resources just to get re-elected,” he said. “We’re probably the only city in the state with two-year terms for aldermen. We need longer terms for council members to do their job. You spend so much time campaigning that decisions could be made on re-election and that’s not a good form of government.”
Council members need the four years for proper long-range planning and budgeting, he added.
Beyond that, he said, “I am excited about the direction the community is going and I am grateful to have contributed to that growth.
“There are so many exciting public and private developments in Davenport that have or will move the community forward,” Meeker said. “I wish I could list them all. It truly has been a privilege to be a part of the most productive time in our history with the private developments leading the way.
“And finally, I wish to express my gratitude to my wife, Nancy, and my family for allowing me time away from family events and activities to serve the citizens of Davenport. It’s been an honor.”