Collaborative, progressive, energetic, hardworking. Complimentary adjectives all, and difficult to beat after a 16-year political career that has followed a guiding principle that you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Carlisle Mayor Ruth Randleman’s work in the city and involvement in local, regional and state organizations have earned her praise, so she must be pleasing plenty of the people a good part of the time.

In fact, current Carlisle City Councilman Eric Goodhue and City Administrator Andrew Lent note that even before Randleman was elected first to the council and then mayor, she “got to work promoting development and nurturing a vision for the future by organizing a very successful ‘Paving the Way’ celebration in 1994” and later helping to lay the groundwork for a pedestrian and bicycle trail that will connect to the city to Des Moines and already provides a link to Indianola.

“She has provided keen leadership not only for our community, but also throughout the Des Moines Metro and across the state of Iowa,” Goodhue and Lent said in their nomination of Randleman as a Woman of Influence.

Randleman said her parents were role models for her desire to be involved.

“I’ve always been interested in community,” she said. “My folks were big into community. They participated. If you were part of something, you just got involved.”

Although Randleman’s husband, Mark, is a Carlisle native, she first moved to the city 25 years ago after he finished a military career. She was quick to get involved in community affairs.

“We moved to Carlisle and built a house,” she said. “It just leads to one thing or another, and you become a stakeholder.”

During her time in office, Randleman has pressed for the city to promote its natural areas while also advocating for the annexation of areas on the west side of the city for commercial development. 

She is constantly on the search for grants to help the city meet its goals without putting additional burden on property taxpayers.

As a longtime member and former president of the Iowa League of Cities, she is concerned that small towns will have difficulty generating revenues for even basic services in light of property tax laws that were passed in 2013.

“I just really worry for the small communities that have to deal with their budget items without a lot of growth. We are in a struggle and we are in a growth mode,” she said.

She acknowledges that after 16 years in public life, “I’ve had those sit-up-straight-in-bed, cold sweat moments, but everyone has those. You shake it off and move on to the next project, hoping to do good.”

“She is that rare combination of fine human qualities that is so essential to being a force for positive change in the world,” Iowa State Rep. Scott Ourth wrote.

Three areas of influence:

  1. Mayor of Carlisle since 2003 and member of City Council from 2000 to 2003.
  2. Iowa League of Cities board of directors.
  3. Member of the Tomorrow Plan steering committee.

Words to live by:

“One key to success is love what you do, and one key to failure is to try to please everybody.”