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Josh Boldt prepares to lead the city of Maquoketa as the new city manager. Hired for the position last month, Boldt will begin his duties after the first of the year. 

He hails from Stockton, Illinois, but he’s quite familiar with the pools and tributaries of the Mississippi River at Savanna and Sabula. He and his dad shopped for cars in Maquoketa.

With a love of the great outdoors, sports, and hunting, Josh Boldt expects to fit right into the landscape when he begins his new job as Maquoketa city manager Jan. 11.

The Maquoketa City Council hired Boldt in November, ending a nine-month search to replace Gerald Smith, who resigned in January to accept a position elsewhere, and Mallory Smith, whom the council appointed to the position in the interim.

“They offered. I happily accepted,” Boldt said.

The city was pleased with Boldt’s resume and experience, according to Smith.

“From reviewing applications Josh was the first choice based on his strong financial background, enthusiasm for the opportunity and a work history that demonstrates commitment to an organization along with commitment to training and advancement,” Smith said.

“The interviews showed us a demeanor very suitable for the job and the community and that he does his homework,” said Smith, who plans to retire after guiding Boldt through the transition period.

“I can’t say enough about Mallory,” Boldt said during a phone interview. “She’s been keeping me educated on all the city’s ongoing projects.”

And there are quite a few. 

Tschiggfrie Excavating is wrapping up year one of the two-year Platt Street reconstruction project. The city and county are constructing a new bridge on South Main Street next year. The east side of numerous participating downtown businesses will get facelifts thanks to state/federal funding, at least one new housing development is in the works at Western and Summit, and more improvement projects continue to crop up.

It’s one of the reasons the Boldts were drawn to the area.

His wife Kara grew up in Rock Island, Illinois, and has family ties in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. 

“So we thought (Maquoketa) was the right fit as a town for us,” the new city manager said. “There are many positives here.”

Kara is a counselor for Rockford University, and the family’s preliminary plans will see her finish out the school year there. In the interim, Boldt plans to be in Maquoketa Monday through Friday, and as soon as is practical the family will make the move here, possibly as early as spring.

Boldt’s first impression of the city is that it’s “good, truly.”

He and Kara toured the city at the beginning of November prior to his in-person interview with the city council.

“There’s a clean downtown. The streets are torn up but there’s work to do,” Boldt said. “You’ve got good businesses doing well in the downtown, and tourists are coming in, especially from the Caves.”

Smith escorted him on a walking tour of the town that day as well, where he saw Maquoketa Public Library — “probably the best part of the tour” — and spent the night at the Decker House Hotel soaking up some local history and atmosphere.

Boldt also made an hour-long stop at the Maquoketa Police Station – a building that’s primary purpose is familiar to him. Because although Boldt worked the last 14 months as the assistant city manager for DeKalb, Illinois, it wasn’t his initial career path.

He served as a DeKalb police officer and field training officer from 2011-2020. 

It’s a job he enjoyed, but with a wife and the couple’s first child on the way, Boldt said he began thinking about family life with a newborn, the crazy schedule of being a police officer, and his future.

Boldt earned both a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in local government management and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Northern Illinois University

While working on the police force and working closely with the then-assistant city manager, Boldt was heavily involved in union negotiations, budgeting, and other financial issues. 

He thinks that experience will help greatly moving into a community of Maquoketa’s size. DeKalb operates on a 276-page budget with 33 funds compared to Maquoketa’s 12-page budget. “It’s much smaller but I’m looking forward to its unique challenges and helping Maquoketa move forward,” Boldt said, emphasizing his work with tax-increment financing as an added skill set.

That includes economic growth and attracting business and industry. 

He said the city of DeKalb is experiencing a growth spurt now, and he has some ideas on how to help Maquoketa expand as well. It’ll start with a “period of diagnosis,” Boldt explained. “I’m not going to be the one to come in and say, ‘This needs to change.’

First, “I’m excited to come in, look around, and get a better feel for what the community can offer,” Boldt said