Chris Bearden, 47, grew up in Tama and attended South Tama Schools. He graduated in 1979. After graduation, Chris began working with Packaging Corporation of America. The plant was subsequently sold and is now Caraustar Industries. Chris has been a member of United Steelworkers Local 743 since he started his job. He has served the union as president, vice president and recording secretary.
On Aug. 14, 1982, Chris married Diane Marie White. Diane grew up on a family farm, where Chris now helps with the planting and harvesting of the crops. The couple have four children: Hannah, 21; Savannah, 17; Noah, 13; and Jonah, 9.
In November 1996, Chris was elected to the Tama City Council, where he served six years. He was then elected to the position of mayor and is currently serving his second four-year term. Being involved in city government has given Chris the experience of dealing with people and also the awareness of how hard it is for small communities to make ends meet. Tama has used tax-increment financing to help revitalize its dying downtown business district.
Chris worked with a local nonprofit group to create a DNR funded ATV park in Tama. Club Sport was selected “Club of the Year” its first year of operation. It attracts people from all over the state for family entertainment.
Believing a state-licensed casino would be a tourist attraction and a boon to the community, Chris spearheaded a campaign to pass a gaming referendum for Tama County, which was passed in November 2006. This was intended to help all of Tama County and also surrounding communities.
As mayor, Chris has made many improvements within the city. These are not cheap, but tax askings have been kept under control. In 1996, askings per $1,000 evaluation were $15.79. This year’s budget is at $15.77 per $1,000. Our costs have increased dramatically, but the city was able to keep things in Tama affordable. Chris has met many out-of-state investors that have come forward and invested in Tama County. One of the biggest projects is Tama Ethanol, a 100-million gallon per year production plant. Progress has been slow, but still moving forward. Chris is dedicated to promoting Iowa and keeping it a great place to live and raise a family.
Chris is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church and belongs to the Iowa League of Cities, the South Tama Parent Advisory Group and the Tama County Economic Development Commission.