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28-year-old mayor has big plans to invigorate small Iowa town

Balances mayoral duties with law-student curriculum
Posted at 6:23 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-24 00:34:19-05

SIDNEY, Iowa (KMTV) — There aren't many 28-year-old mayors around the country, let alone rural Iowa where people don't seem to move back after leaving for college. In Sidney, Iowa, the mayor, who is a law student at Creighton, says he has big plans to retain and attract young people.

Late last year, the small community of Sidney elected Peter Johnson to be the next mayor.

Johnson says he understands what young people are looking for, being one himself. Every summer, thousands frequent their famous rodeo which he hopes to capitalize on by bringing more events to the small town.

With more entertainment options, he says the people living there would have more to do and maybe it would attract young people as well.

One way to do this is branding which he says his town can expand on.

"A lot of these small communities that are successful have very unique identities," he says. "I mean, I think of Pella, Iowa and I think of the Dutch. So I think with Sidney having this rodeo identity built in, there's a huge opportunity to market it to the wider area."

Johnson doesn't see his job as mayor as a marketer or event planner. He also wants to focus on housing by fixing blighted properties, building on new development and vacant lots. He believes this will attract people willing to commute and possibly businesses who take notice of the development.

Although he's ambitious, he knows he still has to attend to the normal duties expected of a mayor.

"I can talk about bringing young people to town but if you hit a pothole on your way back to work, everyday, that's going to affect your life more than a 28-year-old moving next door," says Johnson.