North Hill Community Club holds Des Moines City Council Candidate Forum

By Katalia Alexander

With elections coming up quickly, many Des Moines citizens are in the process of trying to figure out who to vote for. To help with this process, several community organizations have decided to host community forums to allow citizens of Des Moines to meet the candidates and hear their positions on important issues.

One such forum was held at the North Hill Community Club on Tuesday, October 10. At the forum, each candidate gave a five minute statement about their background, positions, and reasons for running for office. After, attendees had the opportunity to meet the candidates and ask them questions. Below are some of the ideas shared by each candidate.

Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District Commissioner Position 5:

  • Nancy Kuehnoel is running for reelection to the pool board to continue overseeing the Mount Rainier Pool. She says “I’ve been honored to serve the community on the pool board since 2010. I am excited to take part in the next phase of planning for and upgrading the Mount Rainier Pool.” She adds that she brings 30 years of Human Resources Management to the team and is committed to finding out what the community wants from the pool. She promises a sustainable budget, collaborative work style, and open and transparent communication. She is dedicated to expanding aquatic and fitness opportunities in our community.
  • Gene S. Achziger is a journalism professor at Highline College and has also been involved with the pool board for many years. “I ran the campaign in 2009 to save the Mount Rainier pool when it was threatened with closure,” he says. He believes in the value of the pool in this community, saying, “we need to sustain swimming in this community.” When he previously served on the pool board, he launched programs to provide pool scholarships to low-income kids and start lifeguard training programs for local teens. He hopes to return these programs to the Mount Rainier pool if he is elected as a Commissioner.

City Council Position #1:

  • Matt Pina is the incumbent mayor of Des Moines, having been chosen as mayor by the council in 2016. He became mayor in a time of crisis – the city was 18 months from bankruptcy and was facing the possibility of receivership – being absorbed into a nearby city. Under Matt’s leadership, the city council prevented this from happening. 11 months later, Des Moines is structurally sound as is no longer near bankruptcy. However, the city still has low reserve funds – something Matt is committed to improving if he is reelected. Other successes while in office include adding six police officers to the force and creating the Aviation Advisory Committee. He is committed to increasing business and development in Des Moines and reducing crime. He says, “we’ve come a long way, but we’re not done yet. I want to see this through.”
  • Anthony Martinelli, the other candidate for Position 1, did not attend the event.

City Council Position #3:

  • Vic Pennington, the incumbent, was not able to attend the forum.
  • JC Harris is a first time candidate who was educated as an engineer. He describes himself as a “change candidate.” While he acknowledges the large feat the Des Moines City Council has accomplished in saving our city from bankruptcy, he believes our city council needs a member who will focus more on the people of Des Moines. According to JC, RJ e average age of voters in Des Moines is 54. “I’m running to represent the next generation in Des Moines,” JC says. He believes that the council should focus on current issues in our community, such as poverty and the mitigation of the airport. “I’d like to be a voice on the council that’s focused on your neighborhood, your street, your kids, and your problems,” he says.

City Council Position #5:

  • Traci Buxton is a long-time Des Moines resident and a jack of all trades. Her main professions are property management and real estate, but she also has experience in insurance, fitness, online sales, mental health, and is currently working as contractor. She believes the city needs to focus on redevelopment and revitalization, specifically of downtown Des Moines and Pac Highway. She says, “I have a lot of business and real estate experience that will be helpful as we move into this next phase.” She adds that she is committed to the police, fire department, and recovery community.
  • Harry Steinmetz is another long-time resident who is committed to serving his community. He also believes we need to develop the Marina, but believes we should also invest in our downtown. “The Marina is a jewel we to develop and use to draw people in, but not to the exclusion of our downtown.” He believes we should expand our tax base and increase sales tax revenue by developing business and believes in keeping a sustainable budget. Harry is a supporter of Des Moines Parks&Recreation and is dedicated to being open and transparent with the community if he is elected to the council.

City Council Position #7:

  • Matt Mahoney is a former fire commissioner, military member, and volunteer firefighter who is very active in the Des Moines community. He is a Trustee for the North Hill Community Club and serves on the Citizen’s Advisory Board for Des Moines. He has also spearheaded efforts to reduce speeding and drug use in his neighborhood. He believes the council’s primary focus should be the people in our community. Matt also brings 30+ years of business experience to the council. He says, “everywhere I’ve worked I’ve decreased costs, increased revenue, and most importantly, cultivated talent. I want to bring that to this city council.”
  • Chad Harper, Matt’s opponent, was unable to attend the event.

The deadline to vote in the General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017.


3 Responses to “North Hill Community Club holds Des Moines City Council Candidate Forum”
  1. JC Harris says:

    IMO, there has been far too little coverage of these races; far too few chances for people to see and hear all the candidates so thanks for doing this!

    That said, I sure wish someone would run a spell-checker through my blurb. 😀

    And WRT to what I said about the current council, while I acknowledge that they have turned the city’s finances around, I would point that it’s also a LOT of the same members who got us into the mess in the first place.



    • BirchCreek says:

      JC, I would think the “mess” was pretty much caused by an unforeseen recession, not the leadership at that time. I think they deserve thanks for getting us through the recession.

  2. Laurie M says:

    I would like to thank all those who are willing to sacrifice time spent on their “day” jobs, their hobbies and, most importantly, with their families, to run for office.

    I appreciate all those running, whether it be for City Council, Highline Schools or the Des Moines Pool Metropolitan Park District. Thank you for stepping up!

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