During a recent forum, three candidates running for mayor of Des Moines discussed their views on education, affordable housing, and downtown growth. The candidates included At-large Council Member Connie Boesen, cosmetologist and activist Denver Foote, and Council Member Josh Mandelbaum. Christopher William Von Arx, another mayoral candidate, was not present at the forum, which took place at the Speed Lyceum at Grand View University’s Henning Student Center.
Education was one of the main topics of discussion, with candidates asked about their plans to engage with local high schools and universities. Foote emphasized the importance of creating pathways of communication and addressing the needs of underserved communities, such as LGBTQ and transgender youth and housing-insecure students. Mandelbaum highlighted the role of education in creating opportunities for everyone and suggested collaborating with higher education institutions to make them hubs of activity and development. Boesen, who has served on the School Board, stressed the need for strong advocates for public schools and praised the use of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support preschool classrooms and wrap-around day care.
Regarding zoning code changes, Foote expressed a desire for more multi-use zoning to create walkable communities with easy access to jobs and food. Mandelbaum advocated for allowing more housing types at all price points, including duplexes and quads, to increase affordable options. Boesen supported the idea of a variety of housing in all neighborhoods and suggested building out major corridors and converting single-family homes into rental properties.
When asked about their top priorities for downtown Des Moines, Foote suggested replacing corporations with community services and creating more housing to address homelessness. Mandelbaum emphasized the diversity of downtown and proposed initiatives such as building housing in place of surface parking lots and completing projects like a proposed soccer stadium and entertainment district. Boesen saw Wells Fargo’s move to the suburbs as an opportunity to bring small businesses and housing downtown and called for a more aggressive economic development plan to attract people to the area.
In summary, the Des Moines mayoral candidates discussed their plans for education, affordable housing, and downtown growth. They highlighted the need to engage with high schools and universities, make changes to zoning codes to increase housing options, and prioritize diversity and community services in downtown development.
- Zoning code: A set of regulations that govern how land can be used in different areas, including restrictions on building types and land use.
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