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He served on the City Council from 1938 to 1949 and held the office of mayor in 1942, 1946, and 1949. He was elected in 1938 with the backing of the Good Government League. In later elections, he had the League backing as well as the support of the DUBUQUE TRADES AND LABOR CONGRESS. (1)
In 1946 Wharton and the city council had to deal with Office of Price Administration (OPA) rent controls. Landlords were given five days to register their housing units and room during March. In triplicate, landlords and hotel owners were asked what the rent for the unit was on May 1, 1945 and the maximum rent date. One form was to be kept by the landlord, one copy sent to the OPA, and one mailed to the tenant. Four people were employed in the Dubuque office to handle the estimated seven thousand units and rooms expected to be listed. (2)
Two projects first considered during WORLD WAR II were still in consideration. In 1949 a water softening plant, strictly to be a city financed project, was given additional study. The council wanted to know whether it was the right time to consider its construction and whether the process would affect the taste of the water. Former mayor George R. MURPHY, now a councilman, and several others on the council promoted the project as a "soap saver." City Manager Albin Anton RHOMBERG had received reports that soft water would save each person five dollars annually while the plant would cost only two dollars per person. The second wartime consideration, a sewage treatment plant, was developed during the war with federal agencies' specifications. Mayor Wharton stated that the sewage treatment had been halted while waiting to see whether federal stream pollution legislation might contain funds for cities building such facilities. (3)
Large numbers of RATS in the community continued to pose a serious health risk. In December, 1949 the city council ordered City Manager Albin Anton RHOMBERG to carryout a suggest made by the City Health Director, Dr. Albert J. Entringer. The suggestion established a "landfill" system of refuse disposal rather than the ordinary dumping done at the city dump. Refuse would be buried and covered with dirt. Before it was collected, garbage would also have to be stored in covered rat-proof containers. The council also moved to require owners and tenants of businesses to get rid of any rats and make their buildings rat-proof. Wood stored outside had to be 18 inches off the ground. Guards were required on pipes which rodents might climb to access a structure. Violations could be punished by closing the business or condemning the building. (4)
Wharton chose not to run for re-election in 1950. (3) He served on the board of directors of the DUBUQUE AUTOMOBILE CLUB and the FEDERAL DISCOUNT CORPORATION. He was president and treasurer of the Iowa Holding Company and chairman of the Dubuque County Inheritance Tax Appraisal Board. (5)
1. "Wharton Won't Be Candidate," Telegraph Herald, January 22, 1950, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19500122&printsec=frontpage&hl=en
2. "Rent Control Begins Monday," Telegraph Herald, March 31, 1946, p. 1
3. "See Softening Plant Action," Telegraph Herald, October 12, 1949, p. 9
4. "Ratproofing Act Approved," Telegraph-Herald, December 6, 1949, p. 6
5. "Wharton Won't Be Candidate..."