Exclusive interview with Candidate for Mayor of Davenport Frank Klipsch

Mr. Klipsch please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My wife and I had been married for 45 years. We have four kids. We have ten grandkids. My oldest son, Frank, has two boys, and he does all the communications for the YMCA in Davenport; my second son had two boys and adopted a little girl from Ethiopia, Africa. He is a principal of Mid City High School and alternative school in Davenport.

And the one in the middle he and he and his wife had a boy and a girl and adopted three little boys from Ethiopia. He used to run the YMCA camp and now he is a vice president of overseas youth programming and their camp. And my daughter is master licensed social worker in Brooklyn New York. She studied her junior year in Chile and spent nine months there and she has a degree in Spanish and a degree in Social Work. My family and they are all , my kids and my daughters in law as well, they are all involved with giving professions. They are teachers, they work in the Y, they are social workers, and one is a physician’s assistan.We are a very diverse family. It makes us much more sensitive, I get much more sensitive when people start  talking about those people because we are those people.

What motivated you to run for Mayor of Davenport?

You notice on my campaign post card, my logo on top above my name, there is a bridge with stars above it, the ten stars are my grandkids and the bridge is for bringing people together. I observed what has been going on, predominantly in Davenport, but across the country as well, instead of bringing people together. there’s much division, Instead of seeing how we can divide and seeing how one is wrong and different, let’s get together and find out how can we all do something positively.

 And I think it is important that we don’t talk about values, we demonstrate them. You don’t talk about leadership, you demonstrate leadership. And I have been in leadership for so long, with the YMCA all my life, bringing people together. 

My philosophy and my leadership type

Many people originally said you are not going to be able to develop all these new Y’s with the schools, with the hospital and with the city of Maquoketa and we did. We got all those built. So we built it, two YMCA’s in High Schools in Davenport North and West, in Bettendorf with Genesis Health  and we built the Y with Maquoketa that are now opened to the whole community. Neither one of the entities could have done this along, but by coming together we got it completed.

My whole philosophy is we want to develop programs, facilities that the people that have financial means can participate and will join, but make sure that person that can’t afford it can have an equal access to it. I think that’s important because once you start developing programs for poor people, you already discriminating, but if you develop programs for all people and make sure everybody have an equal access; that’s what this is about, and that’s it.

I have a different leadership style, it is inclusive leadership style that brings people together. I do not raise my voice. I do not yell at people. It is a matter of how to get people to the table find out what we believe in and plan for the future.

We’ve done these pockets of  [in the city] and how do we get people from both sides of the community, both income groups at the same table and not have one try tell to the other one what they need, what they should be doing. Let’s all get together and find the solution and that  what I try to do. It is important to me. I think it’s an opportunity for new perspective based on this type of leadership.

 Inclusiveness vs. Diversity. 

Once there was a lady at conference I attended, a member of this popular big push that is going on and the conversation is always the melting pot and she is the teacher, she comes from Mexico and she is in Maquoketa and she said we should not look at it as melting pot, but it should be a fruit salad, add good things and come together to create an environment. And I never heard anybody, never ever touch on this again. And this inclusiveness is really an issue, it’s the matter of you don’t try people to have them lose their culture, but you bring it in and include that culture to a greater richer culture because for my four Ethiopian grandchildren that I have, my daughters in law have learned how to cook Ethiopian food, we celebrate Ethiopian holidays. We think that’s important, so they understand they bring to our family the richness of culture just like Hispanic population enriches this culture and I think this inclusiveness. As oppose to, or we let them come in, but this is not inclusiveness. That’s diversity, but it is not inclusiveness.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the City of Davenport today?

If there is ever one child that goes to school from a family that is in a problem of being on the street or the family who has to decide do I pay my electric bill, do I buy medicine, or do I buy food, we’ve got a moral obligation to step up and help. It is not the matter of giving things, it is the matter of being part of solution. And that is we got to create more jobs and give people an opportunity to have those jobs. Good paying jobs, not working poor kind of jobs, but good positive jobs. We do that by attracting more businesses into our Quad City region, so there is more development and opportunities to do that.

So I see that economic development as extremely important. Infrastructure of our cities is important as well. Streets and sewers need to be dealt with not just around election time, but we need a plan that clearly lays out step by step system that is going to take care of all the infrastructure needs. Then we communicate to the community and say, here is the plan. This is our top project and we going to work down this list and I think people are fair, they understand that if I come to you and say here is the list and here is where my project fits and I am OK with that, as long as we communicate and stay on that path.

It seems like where you live and who you know and you end up getting better streets and quicker services, that’s there what people have a problem with. So we lay it out, communicate it to the public.

We have to do it we got to give as much attention to Rockingham Rd  as we do Utica Ridge. Both of these streets are need to be dealt with on both ends of the community. Everybody has to be included. So I think those major issues: economic development, infrastructure and job creation.

All issues are important but it becomes a part of the process that creates jobs, that creates better education. All of these have to be intertwined in this process we need to support our schools, because we want our kids able to be in a position to take jobs as they are created. We all have to be… all becomes part of the interwoven of the fabric or the cloth of our community.

Diverse culture is enrichment for our community

We, my wife and I, have lived about 50 years here, and people say you need to move and we say no, we built our home on the West side of Davenport and we decided we wanted our kids to stay at west High School. That cultural diversity is an enriching factor for us. Our family is broader thinking, more globally minded or inclusive because we all understand that it adds to our culture. We celebrate it and not make excuses. Its Ok because the diverse culture that we were in, the diverse cultures, enriches our community. We need to embrace that at to be inclusive.There are a lot of people and lets come to the City Hall and let’s have a discussion. It is uncomfortable and I think we need to go somewhere people feel comfortable. But we can’t have one side say, I know what they are thinking, here is what they said and the other say, and I know what they are thinking. We need to learn to get to know each other and that is there the learning happens. That’s how we build relationships, when we get people together.


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