Family legacy carries on with a four-term mayor

Riverside's Allen Schneider balances city politics with coaching his kids’ sports teams

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 1/28/23


Allen Schneider, Riverside’s four-term mayor, has never called on “mom” during a City Council meeting.

He could have.

Schneider never called on “dad” …

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Family legacy carries on with a four-term mayor

Riverside's Allen Schneider balances city politics with coaching his kids’ sports teams



Allen Schneider, Riverside’s four-term mayor, has never called on “mom” during a City Council meeting.

He could have.

Schneider never called on “dad” during a City Council meeting.

He could have.

Sitting at a table in the Riverboat Room at Riverside City Hall one recent day, Schneider chuckled about that. This can be considered, after all, a first family of Riverside and Washington County. His mom, Lois, is a current City Council member. His dad, Bob Jr., was a City Council member when Schneider first became mayor in 2016.

“We work pretty hard not to make that be obvious during the meetings,” Allen Schneider said. “So far, I never called dad dad during a meeting, I never called mom mom during a meeting.”

The Schneider commitment to civil service goes back at least three generations.

His uncle, Mark, was a longtime superintendent of the Mid-Prairie Community School District before retiring last year.

His brother, Jared, is Washington County Sheriff.

His grandfather, Bob Sr., was a mayor.

Lois and Bob Jr. both served on the Highland School Board.

And just waiting to add to the family legacy is Cooper, a fifth-grade student at Highland Elementary in Riverside.

“My youngest one has said before that once he turns 18, whatever the age limit is, that he’s going to run against me,” Schneider said, smiling.

“I said, ‘That’s fine.’”

It has always been about family and community for the Schneiders. Allen’s three children (Cooper, 11; Jacob, 13; Jackson, 16) have a dad who is mayor, a mom (Katie) who has been on the board of virtually every youth sports association in Riverside and is office manager at St. Thomas More Church in Coralville, a grandfather (Bob Jr.) and grandmom (Lois) who have been members of the City Council and Highland School board, and a great grandfather (Bob Sr.) who was a mayor.

How important is family?

It’s so important that come 2024, there may not be a Schneider sitting on the Riverside City Council. Allen is a youth sports coach for his sons all year long, but especially in the spring and summer. And now that they’re in three Highland schools, ranging from Grade 5 to Grade 11, the mayor is also a dad running from school to school to watch his kids in athletics and other activities.

Election Day may also be a football day.

“I’m kind of unsure at this point,” Allen Schneider said of the November 2023 election in which the city’s mayor and two council member spots will be voted on. “My preference would be not to run again just because we’ve got kids that are in high school and middle school activities right now. It would be nice to have more of my evenings free. But I haven’t made a decision yet.”

Lois Schneider has said she is not running for re-election.

Allen Schneider, a vice president at MidWestOne Bank in Iowa City, wouldn’t just walk away. That’s not his style. As much as family touches his heart, so does the city.

“Probably two big factors there are making sure that we get someone in the city administrator position stabilized and everything like that,” Schneider said. “I don’t want to necessarily cause any problems there. And then, I think, feeling comfortable that we’ve got somebody that’s going to transition into the mayor’s role and keep things moving in the right direction.”

Schneider has certainly brought a calming influence to the board. He asks questions. He tosses in suggestions. He keeps the City Council on target, even through a meeting that sometimes is almost three hours long. And as a mayor, he does not have a vote. He’s the referee, the arbitrator, the facilitator.

“I’m very proud of him,” Lois Schneider said. “He’s quiet, but gets a lot done. I respect his decisions on where he wants to take the town.”

“I try to be pretty level-headed during the meeting,” Allen Schneider said. “It doesn’t help the situation for me to get worked up about something because I think that just escalates it with everybody else. I’m pretty focused on keeping my cool during a meeting as much as I can, trying to de-escalate whenever I can. I don’t always succeed in that, but I think that’s an important part for anybody in that position is to not let emotion get into the conversation.

“The thing that is going to be best for the city is if we can talk respectfully between each other and have differences of opinion, but still kind of work through that as opposed to calling people names or yelling or things like that don’t do anybody any good.”

And it was one of the reasons Schneider ever wound up in the mayor’s chair.

“That was really a big part of why I ran for the position in the first place,” he said. “We’ve had some history of not the most professional meetings maybe is the best way to put it. … I think that just makes it more difficult to get things done when we can’t work through things respectfully.

“If I’ve done anything,” Schneider added, “being able to make sure that we kind of go about the agenda professionally, we take citizen input whenever we can, but just trying to continue to move ahead and utilize the resources that we have.”

Over Schneider’s eight years as mayor, the city has changed. In the last year alone, improvements at Railroad Park, and a new water and sewer main on Third Street, were done for around $4 million. There are plans to build a community center that includes athletic and daycare facilities. The city’s growth may soon include an annexation of property east of Highway 218.

“I said this when I ran for mayor, we’ve got a lot of things going for us compared to other towns our size,” Schneider said. “With the casino, we’ve got revenue coming in. The proximity to Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and other things like that. And the small-town piece of it, too. There’s good parts to both. There’s nice things about growing up in a small town. There’s nice things about growing up in a larger city where you’ve got more resources, more things that you can do, restaurants, activities, things like that.

“So I think we’re in a good spot to where we can hopefully have the best of both worlds.”

Schneider, a former three-sport, all-conference athlete and a Mid-Prairie High School graduate because his parents lived in Wellman before moving to Riverside in 1997, is fond of those worlds. His commute to work is a half hour. A trip to a University of Iowa Hawkeyes game is a half hour away. He can coach one of his kid’s teams in Riverside, join the family at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and still have a time for a round of golf at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort or Wellman Golf Course.

And then, there are the holiday dinners where generations of city and school politics pull up to the table at the same time. Even so, politics are not on the menu.

“I think we try to avoid it,” Allen Schneider said. “We’ve got plenty of other things to discuss, too.”

Riverside, mayor, Allen Schneider, Lois Schneider, Bob Schneider


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