SIOUX CITY | With the exception of the first three years of his retirement, Pete Groetken has never not held a public service position.
The 68-year-old first-term councilman spent six years with the Iowa Army National Guard before joining the Sioux City Police Department in 1972. That led to a nearly 38-year career, including 23 years as captain.
Groetken grew up in Sioux City, graduated from Bishop Heelan Catholic High School and attended Briar Cliff University. Following his tenure with the National Guard, Groetken -- who was married with three daughters -- decided to look for a civil service job.
When he approached the city and asked about upcoming positions, he remembers a woman telling him there were two upcoming tests: one for a police department position and one for a Sioux City Fire Rescue position.
"I asked which one's first? She said police. I said I'll take it," he said.
Two months later, Groetken received his badge and gun as an officer. During his time on the force, he spent 31 years in supervisory roles, including 23 years as a captain, spending time overseeing each of the department's three bureaus.
In 1985, he graduated from the FBI National Academy for law enforcement officers at Quantico, Virginia.
Groetken points back to his many years with the Sioux City Police Department and the relationships he formed there as a driving force behind his decision to continue his involvement in city government.
"I've always had this ideology that good things happen to good people, so therefore I want to be surrounded by good people," Groetken said. "I had a wonderful opportunity to be in a position to work around good people my entire career."
Groetken retired in 2010. Three years later, he decided to throw his hat into the ring for one of three open seats up for election on the Sioux City Council.
"There are a lot of good people in city government," he said. "(I thought) it would be ideal to be in a position to be able to vote to improve their capabilities to do good things for this city."
Running in a field of eight candidates that included only one incumbent, Groetken in 2013 won the primary and went on to receive the second-most votes in the general election behind attorney Dan Moore.
In his first term as a councilman, Groetken points to recently announced large-scale economic development projects and the strides that the Parks and Recreation Department has made in building trails and adding new parks as a success he wants to continue.
Groetken finished third in the Oct. 10 City Council primary behind fellow incumbents Dan Moore and Alex Watters.
Groetken lives in Sioux City with Donna, his wife of 46 years. They have three grown children and several grandchildren. Groetken said while none of his daughters remained in Sioux City, he wants to work to make it a place where more of the people who grow up and attend college decide to stick around.
"I never got a chance to get them back here, but I think the goal for me would be to provide an environment growing up that the kids want to stay here," he said. "I hope that we can provide opportunities for them."