Vote on Nov. 2, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa

If you live in Des Moines, Iowa, our municipal elections will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.  This election, just like Presidential elections, is very important. Why? Because local elections impact your life even more directly than State or Federal elections. It’s about where you live!

Who’s on the Des Moines City Council Ballot?

Ward 1

The candidates seeking to represent Ward 1 on the Des Moines City Council (northwest quadrant of Des Moines) are:

  • Marcus Coenen
  • Bill Gray (incumbent)
  • Indira Sheumaker

Do you live in Ward 1? Find out here by entering your address (scroll down the page).

Ward 3

The candidates seeking to represent Ward 3 on the Des Moines City Council are:

  • Josh Mandelbaum (incumbent)
  • Cory McAnelly
  • Brandi Webber

Do you live in Ward 3? Find out here by entering your address (scroll down the page).


The candidates seeking to represent the entire city at-large on the Des Moines City Council are:

  • Connie Boesen (incumbent)
  • Justyn Lewis

Any registered voter living anywhere in Des Moines can vote for one of the councilman-at-large candidates.

Read a quick summary of all the candidates

What’s on the Ballot?

In the last Presidential election, Black and Brown citizens voted in record numbers. Local elections are equally important because it’s about what’s happening in your own home town.

On Nov. 2nd your vote can determine who best represents your values on the Des Moines City Council and the Des Moines School Board.

But it’s not just about WHO’s on the ballot, it’s about WHAT’S on the ballot.

  • Ending racially-biased policing is on the ballot.
  • Police Accountability and Transparency is on the ballot.
  • Decriminalizing marijuana and the disproportionate Black residents arrested for it is on the ballot.
  • Improving public education for all students, especially the impoverished children and children of color

Make sure you question the candidates about these issues!  

Good Questions to ask the Candidates

About the Marijuana Task Force Report & Recommendations

The Marijuana Task Force was appointed by a unanimous vote of the Des Moines city Council in June 2020. It did an exemplary job of examining current marijuana practices used by police departments in cities our size. They came back with a set of recommendations that would have reduced the disproportionate marijuana enforcement in the City of Des Moines.

Read the report here.  The Des Moines City Council has not taken any action to implement the recommendations.

The general question that can be asked of all candidates about the Task Force Report is:

  1. Will you support the recommendations of the Marijuana Task Force that were submitted to the council in November 2020? Yes or No?

One section of the Marijuana Task Force contains actions the Des Moines City Council could take now to reduce the problem of disproportionate enforcement against the Black community

  1. Will you introduce an ordinance, to the Des Moines City Council, establishing marijuana possession, for personal use, to be a low-level law enforcement priority for public safety officials?
  2. Will you champion a Resolution to require the collection and publication of data arising from traffic stops and police encounters involving the investigation, arrest or criminal prosecution for a possession of marijuana for personal use?
About Police Accountability & Transparency

The recent reports have been published about the emails sent by Mr. Tom Conley (owner of Conley Security Group) to Police Chief Dana Wingert and other members of the Des Moines Police Department are alarming.

Also, the Des Moines Register reported recently that a sexual harassment lawsuit has been filed against the Des Moines Police Department and the City detailing continual, pervasive, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination of female police officers and one female staff dating back for years.  This is another recent example of police misconduct and all the candidates should be asked about it.

The general question that can be asked of all candidates about the need for police accountability is:

  1. Will you present a resolution or resolutions to initiate an independent investigation of the Des Moines Police Department and the City Manager to determine whether any member of the police department or the City Manager’s office has engaged in any action (or inaction) that should lead to disciplinary consequences ranging from a reprimand, a suspension, up to termination of employment?

Over the last several years the racial profiling project and Just Voices Iowa have submitted multiple reports and data that reflect racially biased policing in Des Moines. The latest report concerned the activities of the Special Enforcement Team of the Des Moines Police Department.

Read the report here.

There are two questions relevant to these reports.

  1. Do you accept the data and reports that have been presented to the Des Moines City Council, by Just Voices Iowa, that show that Des Moines has a problem with racially biased policing – yes/no?
  2. If the answer is no, the follow up question is: What data are you relying upon to support your answer?
Voting Laws & Requirements for Registration

Some voting laws changed in the last legislative session of the Iowa State Legislature, so be sure you check out voting laws in Iowa on the Secretary of State website.

  • To verify that you ARE registered to vote in Iowa, enter your name and zip code here.
  • To find your polling place and precinct, go here.
  • Get the facts on Voter ID requirements here.

Des Moines School Board Candidates

There are several citizens running to sit on the Des Moines Public Schools’ Board. They are:

  • Director-at-large candidates: Maria Alonzo-Diaz, Lloyd Elam and Jackie Norris
  • Director district No. 1 candidates: Kim Martorano and Shelley Skuster
  • Director district No. 2 candidates: Jenna Knox is running unopposed.
  • Director district No. 4 candidates: Caldwell-Johnson is running unopposed.

District No. 1 includes Roosevelt and Hoover high schools, district No. 2 includes North High School, district No. 3 includes East High School, and district No. 4 includes Lincoln High School.

To find out what school district you live in, and therefore what candidates you can vote for, go here and enter your street address.

NOTE:  This year, any registered voter living anywhere in Des Moines at large may cast two votes for the “Director-At-Large” candidates. There are three candidates running.

Learn More About City Council Candidates

During the run up to the November 2nd election, candidates will do a lot of public speaking, interviews, appearances, and the like.  You can just enter their name into GOOGLE to find a collection of information about them.  But here are some other things you can read or view:

Read an article for more about the Des Moines Public School Board candidates.

Watch these video interviews done by We Are Iowa (WOI-TV/ABC Affiliate):