Mayor has big plans for Volga, the community she loves

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Volga’s mayor, Carrie Taylor, pictured with her husband Jay and sons Braden and Bryson, has a big agenda for the community she loves. (Photo courtesy of Gingersnap by Catherine)

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

The child of civil service oriented parents, Volga Mayor Carrie Taylor said politics were always “ingrained” within her, as was the love of small town Americana. The Manchester native chose to stay, rather than leave, because she wanted to be close to family and loved the community. While she had the opportunity to travel, opening doors and broadening horizons, none of those places ever felt like home. 

“Home was in Iowa,” Taylor said. In her words, “you can always travel, but there’s no place like home,” so she chose “family over luxury,” and settled in Volga with husband Jay and their two boys. 

As for the career in politics, there was a five-year run as a member of Volga’s city council before a two-year pause, when, at the urging of the former mayor and friend, she decided to take her turn in 2019. But the decision involved other factors, such as the aging leadership in Volga. 

“I wanted to make sure the younger generation had some input…ensure people have a voice,” Taylor said. 

One unique feature about Taylor’s campaign for mayor was the lack of campaigning. To say that that’s unusual would be an understatement. But why didn’t she? “If people don’t know who I am already, after 13 years, then they won’t vote for me anyway,” she said. 

There was also Taylor’s inherent belief that “everything happens for a reason.” On Election Day, she survived a squeaker, winning by two votes and earning the opportunity to lead Volga. 

The position, Taylor knows, is one that “you never do alone [and] you’re only as good as the town you have behind you.” 

Of course, Taylor’s election is representative of a growing trend in politics over the last decade—the prominence of women being elected. Though Taylor never once brought gender into it, it’s still indicative of the shifting political landscape. When asked about the trend, Taylor offered a few reasons for it: “There is a level of comfort and trust…it’s like having your mother making decisions.” 

The community, for its part, has been respectful, and the biggest obstacle she’s faced had nothing to do with being a woman, but with her age. There was a belief that she was too young to serve. In the end, neither gender nor age stopped her from winning, but the win also exposed the lack of female mayors in Volga’s history. 

“The fact that I am one of the only women to serve shows we need more…and I hope to inspire,” Taylor said. 

All that aside, being Mayor comes with challenges, and in 2020, that biggest challenge has been COVID-19. It’s been a challenge for communication and responsiveness, a strain on resources and limited natural interactions. 

“We try to keep up to date…comply with guidelines and meet deadlines,” Taylor said. 

One of the things Taylor is proud of during the COVID shut-down, was the Volga City grocery delivery program, which reached community members of all ages and abilities. The purpose was not only to provide, but to keep people in town to prevent further, unnecessary exposure. Taylor framed the idea as such, telling the community, “we want to do this for you. We want to help keep you in town and get you your groceries.” The program was a massive success. 

Another, less glamorous addition COVID provided was when Taylor had to patrol the parks in Volga because of a lack of compliance from some members of the community. 

“Everything, ever since March, every part of my job has been affected by COVID…and being able to function in the midst of it…has been a big accomplishment,” she said. 

At some point, the national pandemic will subside, and even if it doesn’t, Volga is still looking toward the future. For Taylor, that future must deal with fixing the towns “pain points.” 

On Taylor’s agenda is improving the fire house so that it is better utilized; repairing the old bridge, which has been an “eyesore” since the flood of 1999; finding a new use for the old school gym; dealing with storm water issues to prevent flooding; constructing a pedestrian bridge to connect the west and east sides of town; creating a new website to advertise and promote the city; and repairing and improving the dyke. 

Regarding the last issue, the dyke is an apparent source of pride, as Taylor spoke at length about fixing it. “I want to see the dyke back into a working order that we can be proud of. Make it a feature of the city as well as a source of protection for the city,” she said. Preventing high water events, in Taylor’s estimation, would maintain the river’s beauty and enrich the overall visual appeal. 

The revitalization and promotion of Volga—a city she described as family oriented, friendly and peaceful—is all very personal for Taylor. Volga is an idyllic place, not just to live, but also to visit, where people can forget about the big city life and feel safe. It’s where they can kayak down the river, check out the limestone bluffs, visit the parks and campground or just enjoy the beautiful scenery for a relaxing day trip.   

The future for Taylor and her ambitions are completely Volga-centric; it’s a place she is committed to. 

“So many things need to be done in Volga before I move on. This is not a responsibility, but a privilege, and I love being a leader and enabling people to use their talents,” she said. “I truly love building relationships in the community.” 

If home is where the heart is, then Taylor’s heart beats with Volga.  

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