Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 16, 2018

Fairfield hires city administrator

Played football at Iowa in early 1990s
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Oct 24, 2017
Photo by: PHOTO COURTESY OF AARON KOOIKER Fairfield’s new city administrator Aaron Kooiker, seen here with wife, Michelle.

The Fairfield City Council approved an employment contract with the new city administrator during its meeting Monday night.

The new administrator is Aaron Kooiker, who plans to start his job with Fairfield around Thanksgiving. He will move here from Hull, a town of about 2,200 people in northwest Iowa. Kooiker has been Hull’s city administrator for the past five years.

Kooiker will bring to Fairfield his wife, Michelle, and 16-year-old son Landon, a sophomore in high school. The couple have another son, 20-year-old Ashton, who will stay in Hull, where he works at a welding and metal fabrication shop.

The Kooiker family moved around a few times in Aaron’s youth. He was born in Clinton and spent his early elementary years in Lake City. Most of his education was done in Sioux Center, where he graduated from high school in 1991.

Kooiker studied sociology and played football at the University of Iowa. Kooiker started at right tackle his senior season in 1995 when the Hawkeyes won the Sun Bowl. He played alongside Fairfield High School alum Mike Dailey, who returned to Fairfield to be the middle school’s principal.

Kooiker’s older brother had entered a career in law enforcement, which sparked Kooiker’s interest in the field. After college, Aaron took a job as a police officer in Polk City, where he worked for two years before transfering to the West Des Moines Police Department, where he worked for another 11 years.

While in West Des Moines, Kooiker earned a master’s degree in public administration.

“In order for advancement in West Des Moines, we were strongly encouraged to get a master’s degree,” he said.

Kooiker got his degree online from Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska.

Though his schoolwork had opened his eyes to a career path in city administration, Kooiker wasn’t ready to take that path just yet. He left the West Des Moines Police Department to become an instructor at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Camp Dodge. After four years teaching at the academy, it was time for something new.

“That’s when I decided to get back into public service,” he said.

Kooiker applied for and obtained the job as Hull’s city administrator on Dec. 1, 2012, where he has been ever since. He has learned much in that time about what it takes to run a city and satisfy its residents.

“My job is to make sure everybody in the city is helping each other and doing the jobs that need to be done,” he said. “People can be very demanding, and personalities can conflict, so my role is to manage those personalities so we can resolve the problem.”

Kooiker likened his role as city administrator to that of a head football coach.

“The football coach’s job is like a CEO. He has department heads, too, which are the position coaches, and they’re the ones who coach the players,” he said. “In the same way, I talk to the department heads, and they take care of the day-to-day operations. I’ll look at the big picture and make sure our department heads get what they need to fulfill their mission.”

Kooiker had been to Fairfield once while in college before his interview here last week. He said he likes the town’s progressive attitude and its diversity.

His resignation from his current job will be effective Nov. 17. He and his family plan to visit the town in early November to look for houses and check out its schools.

When he’s not attending to city business, Kooiker likes to fish and particularly ice fish, though he realizes that will be a little harder in Fairfield with its shorter season.

“I’ll have to visit my brother in Fargo, North Dakota, to get that ice fishing in,” he said.

He also likes to hunt deer, though the area where he lives is more inviting for hunting pheasants and other birds than it is for deer.

“My wife and I like to do a little bit of traveling together, especially now that our boys are old enough to fend for themselves,” he joked.

Kooiker was a volunteer football coach at Woodward-Granger and most recently at Rock Valley/Boyden-Hull. He’s been a volunteer coach for 14 years in all, but suspects he’ll be too busy with his new job to continue coaching in Fairfield.

“I’ll probably have a few too many things on my plate,” he said.

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