‘Haystack’ runs for Fairfield mayor
Gary Kessler is running to become the mayor of Fairfield.
Tuesday’s election will be the first time Kessler’s name has appeared on the ballot for any elected office. People in town are more likely to know him by his nickname, “Haystack,” or sometimes just “Stack.” Kessler said he acquired the moniker because one of his favorite professional wrestlers is William “Haystacks” Calhoun.
Kessler has lived in Fairfield his entire life. He said he entered the race for mayor because a friend challenged him to run. Kessler recalled that another friend, Judge Bob Robertson, told him to always believe in himself, so he accepted his friend’s challenge.
“I took his advice seriously, right along with my mom and my dad,” he said.
Kessler said he hasn’t exactly been “campaigning” but he has been talking to people about his run for mayor. He said most of his friends are surprised to see him run. Kessler compared the mayoral race to a bout between two wrestlers.
“It’d be just like one world champion versus the challenger,” he said. “I’m the challenger, just like [professional wrestler] Rick Flair.”
Kessler saw Flair wrestle in Ottumwa when Flair was only 17 years old. He remembers Flair sharing a piece of advice that Kessler has kept with him ever since.
“He said, ‘To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man,’” Kessler said.
Kessler said he has not attended a city council meeting “for quite awhile.” He said he could not think of many things the city needed to do differently, although he did mention he was concerned about roads in town.
“Streets need to be worked on,” he said. “Quite a few of them are bad.”
Kessler said he did not have a strong opinion one way or the other about the city council’s plan to rebuild a large portion of the sanitary sewer infrastructure.
“They’ve got to be fixed,” said Kessler about the sewer mains.
Kessler said the council is doing a fine job managing the city and that he does not have any major complaints about it. He said he has nothing against the current mayor, Ed Malloy.
“Good luck to both guys, and may the best man win,” he said. “I get along with the mayor all right. I’ve lived in this town all my life and I get along with everybody.”
He said most of his conversations with the public about city government focus on why he is running for mayor.
“They ask me, ‘Why come you’re running?’” he said.
When asked what he tells people who ask why they should vote for him, Kessler responded, “If you want me to run, I’ll run.”
When he’s not talking to folks about the mayoral race, Kessler enjoys fishing, watching professional wrestling and watching Chicago Cubs baseball games. One of his role models is Jesse Ventura, a professional wrestler who went on to have success in politics, serving one term as the governor of Minnesota.