Oct 30, 2023 - Politics

Des Moines Voter Guide: Meet the at-large City Council candidates

A photo of A J Drew, left, and Carl Voss. Photos: Courtesy of the candidates

AJ Drew, left, and Carl Voss. Photos: Courtesy of the candidates

Editor's note: This story, photo and URL have been corrected with answers from AJ Drew, the candidate running for the city council's at-large seat. A previous version of this story included answers from a Ward 4 candidate.

Two candidates are vying for an at-large seat on the Des Moines City Council in the Nov. 7 election.

Why it matters: It's one of two council seats that represent the entire city.

  • The seats were called upon frequently in recent months to represent Ward 1 more closely during the extended absences of former Council Member Indira Sheumaker, who resigned in August.

πŸ“› The candidates

  • AJ Drew, 55, is a lifelong Des Moines resident.
  • Carl Voss, 74, is the incumbent, serving since 2020. He was also an interim Ward 4 council member in 2013-2014, a former photo editor at the Des Moines Register and serves on multiple metro-area boards. He did not respond to Axios' speed round questions.

πŸ‘πŸ‘Ž Speed round:

🀰 Would you support or oppose a city ordinance to make DSM an abortion sanctuary city?

  • Drew: πŸ‘
  • Voss: ❓

🧨 Would you support allocating a special annual police force to patrol and write illegal fireworks citations?

  • Drew: πŸ‘
  • Voss: ❓

πŸš— Would you support more (πŸ‘) or fewer (πŸ‘Ž) DSM street diets?

  • Drew: ❓Depends
  • Voss: ❓

❌ Should the city set an attendance policy for council members and the mayor?

  • Drew: πŸ‘
  • Voss: ❓

⛔️ Would you support banning soliciting from streets, regardless of median widths?

  • Drew: πŸ‘
  • Voss: ❓

πŸ”Ž Going deeper

🧐 What do you think is the biggest problem facing DSM?

  • Drew: Really, there are many problems facing this city. I actually think that trying to act like a large metropolitan city is causing many of them. The city needs to be focused not only on where it would like to go moving forward, but on where it is at right now. I feel that fair and honest assessments of current state of the city would lead to different actions for handling many things.
  • Voss: I suspect each of my council colleagues has a bundle of top issues! I'll pick one: Stronger neighborhoods. I address this through initiatives to improve home ownership, property value and neighborhoods. Gimme a chance to do more!

πŸ€Ήβ€β™‚οΈ How should the city help downtown enhance its vibrancy?

  • Drew: There is a large focus on the downtown area. While paying attention to the area is needed, I think other areas of the city need more attention than what they are receiving. For downtown, getting a real handle on the violence that has been happening needs to be the priority. After that is under control, so businesses are not scared to operate in the area, future plans can be generated.
  • Voss: A significant development has been the reintroduction of foot patrols by off-duty police officers. This initiative has been enthusiastically welcomed by local businesses, employees and residents alike.

😎 What's 1 fun thing voters don't know about you?

  • Drew: I love most old and new movies (no horror).
  • Voss: When I was a Capital Striders board member and race director, I led the initiative to introduce doggy doo-doo stations to the metro area β€” the first four ringing Gray's Lake. Capital Striders underwrote the expense from proceeds of a couple of races I directed at the time. Fun stuff!

✍️ Summarize the city in five words or less.

  • Drew: Potential, Caution, Problems, History, Future
  • Voss: Des Moines looks best behind handlebars.

Review where candidates for mayor, Ward 1 and Ward 2 stand on the issues


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