Axios Des Moines

Picture of the Des Moines skyline with DSM written across it.

November 03, 2021

Greetings, Wednesday.

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Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 892 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: School board takeover

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

School board candidates who pledged to challenge mask mandates and equity standards picked up major seats in the Des Moines metro's north suburban districts Tuesday night.

State of play: In Ankeny, candidates Trent Murphy, Joy Burk and Sarah Barthole — who each campaigned against mandating masks — won seats.

  • They defeated Lori Lovstad, the only incumbent up for reelection. Lovstad had advocated for mask mandates.

Of note: Barthole was endorsed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Meanwhile, voters in Johnston approved three school board candidates who agreed to the "1776 Pledge," which was inspired by former President Donald Trump. The winners are Derek Tidball, Clint Evans and Deb Davis.

  • Candidates who take the pledge agree to "restore honest, patriotic education that cultivates in our children a profound love for our country."

Yes, but: It wasn't a clean conservative sweep across the metro. In Waukee, none of the four candidates supported by a conservative PAC won.

  • West Des Moines and Urbandale didn't have an influx of conservative victories either.

Between the lines: Des Moines' northern suburbs typically lean Republican, said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University. But this year's school board elections were unique because of the energy behind them, and the personal values at stake.

  • Goldford said partisan media, the handling of the pandemic and a pushback against a negative narrative about the U.S. all played a part.
  • "Angry people get out and vote. Fearful people get out and vote," Goldford said.

What to watch: It remains unclear at this time whether some of these suburbs could see mask policy or curriculum changes in the near future.

Bonus: From activist to elected official

Indira hugging her sister
Indira Sheumaker (left) hugs her sister. Screenshot of Iowa Public Radio reporter Kassidy Arena's Twitter feed

In a big upset, Indira Sheumaker handily defeated Des Moines City Council incumbent Bill Gray, 47% to 35%, according to unofficial results.

What she's saying: Sheumaker, who first rose to prominence for her activism during last year's BLM protests, thanked her sister for her encouragement at her victory party.

  • She recalled a protest at the Iowa State Capitol, where her sister urged her to speak up.
  • "She helped me realize that an outspoken, loud, annoying, little girl was right the whole time and I should be shouting about these things," Sheumaker said.

2. Polk County sobering center in the works

A photo of a sobering center sign in California.
The San Francisco Department of Health Medical Respite & Sobering Center in 2017. Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Polk County leaders want to open a sobering center for people facing addiction in the metro, Angela Connolly, chairperson of the county board of supervisors, told Axios this week.

Why it matters: It's a place for law enforcement to take people for help rather than to an emergency room or jail.

How it works: Sobering centers are designed to integrate social services with physical and mental health assistance.

  • Clients are generally at the centers for less than 24 hours, unlike detoxification centers and sober living houses that can provide longer-term residential settings.

The big picture: Sobering centers have been around for decades.

What's next: County officials are working with Broadlawns Medical Center and other partners to identify a location and funding sources, Connolly told Jason. Expect updates in coming months.

  • "We are working very hard to make this a reality ASAP," she said.

New jobs near you

🔥 Job openings, coming in HOT.

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3. Kids can get vaccinated

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. gave final approval of a two-dose series of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years old late Tuesday.

Why it matters: Pfizer vaccines for Iowa kids could be available as early as this week.

  • The state is expected to receive 99,000 initial doses on Thursday, Iowa Department of Public Health officials said.

Where to find the shot: Similar to the adult vaccines, you can find them through your health care provider, public health agency or a pharmacy like Hy-Vee.

📣 Have questions about the pediatric vaccine? Hit reply and we'll work on finding the answer.

4. The Ear: Little red corn-vette

Illustration of a cornstalk and two goldfinches silhouetted against a sun and sky in neon colors.
Baby, you're much too fast. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚜 United Auto Workers members rejected a second proposed contract with Deere & Co. Tuesday, continuing their strike. (Des Moines Register)

💧 Polk County voters approved a $65 million bond to preserve and promote recreation on our waterways.

💉 MercyOne and UnityPoint Health are delaying their employee vaccine mandate requirements, citing Iowa's new law. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

🍽 If you want to gobble up some Thanksgiving turkey, start planning your purchase now. (Des Moines Register)

🗳 DMPS candidates Jackie Norris, Maria Alonzo-Diaz and Kim Martorano won their races. (KCCI)

5. First look: Parlor Pizza Joint

A photo of Parlor Pizza Joint in Des Moines.
Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Parlor Pizza Joint opens in the Beaverdale neighborhood this Friday.

State of play: It's among the latest projects from chef Jason Simon, who is an owner of multiple popular metro restaurants such as Harbinger, Eatery A and Alba.

  • He also plans to open a taqueria in coming months at 428 E. Locust St., Des Moines, where the Continental was located. 

The menu: Try more than a dozen pizzas named after songs like Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women." That one is topped with bacon, capicola, sauerkraut, potato and honey.

  • Starters include spicy meatballs, bacon-wrapped dates and buffalo cauliflower.
  • Plus, Parlor offers about 20 tap beers, wines and classic cocktails.

⏰ Open: Wednesday-Thursday, 2-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 11am-midnight; Sunday, 11am-8pm.

  • Happy hour: Half-priced sangria and draft beers, plus $3 pizza slices. (Daily between 2-5pm)

Brenton Skating Plaza opens for the season on Nov. 19.

  • Free skating clinics will be held Dec. 11, Jan. 8 and Feb. 12.