City Council Selects Dave Kaplan as New Mayor of Des Moines

New Des Moines Mayor Dave Kaplan.

by Ralph Nichols

Councilman Dave Kaplan is the new mayor of Des Moines.

Kaplan, who will serve as mayor for the next two years, was the unanimous choice of his fellow council members Jan. 5.

He was nominated by outgoing Mayor Bob Sheckler, who noted that after four consecutive two-year terms in that position, “there comes a time when you step aside and let someone else take over.”

Councilman Matt Pina, who was nominated by Councilwoman Melissa Musser, was unanimously selected as mayor pro tem.

Kaplan, who served as mayor pro tem the past two years, was first seated on the Des Moines City Council in January 1998 following his election the previous November.

He lost his bid for re-election in November 2001, but was elected again four years later and rejoined the council in January 2006. He ran a successful campaign for re-election in November 2009. His current term runs through 2013.

“I thank all my colleagues for the privilege of serving as mayor,” Kaplan said after his selection. “And I thank Bob Sheckler for giving me opportunities to develop leadership skills.”

Noting that Scott Thomasson, who retired from the city council after not seeking re-election last November, and Sheckler are the only two mayors he has served with as a council member, Kaplan added “they are tough acts to follow.”

He said that he and Pina will be “a good leadership team” and, with their fellow council members, “together we will accomplish a lot in the next couple of years….

“We’re the policy makers. We’ll drive policy,” Kaplan continued. “We have a lot to do, both in the short term and the long term.”

A change in the way the city council proceeds with its annual budget-setting process tops his priorities.

“We need to start earlier, prioritize the services we want and how to fund them. We’ve been struggling to get by with one-time monies [applied to ongoing expenses] year after year, and we can’t keep doing that.”

This includes capital improvement projects as well as general fund expenditures, he said.

Kaplan said strategic objectives will be addressed at the council’s annual retreat, which s a public meeting, on Saturday, Jan. 14, at the family lodge in Beach Park.

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