EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by Des Moines Councilmember Traci Buxton. It reflects her personal opinion only:]

On several occasions now, I have heard some concern over our current City Council’s 7-0 voting record. Below are some of my personal thoughts on the matter:

The Value of the 7-0 Vote

In our City, I believe the 7-0 vote indicates a business-minded and dedicated council and staff who work hard to communicate well, and expediently move our City toward health and vibrancy.

After knocking on thousands of doors and speaking to countless residents, I believe that currently, the two most important issues in our City are; Safety (personal and environmental), and economic development/revitalization. Because safety is relatively universal as a first concern, I am only going to address economic development below, and refer to it as our #1, unique task. Many of our decisions at the dais have a domino affect on our community’s ability to draw partners who desire to – and will – invest in our City. If we are to create a vibrant, regional destination with a year-round Farmers Market, a charming Marina, and a walkable downtown replete with recreation, entertainment, shops, and bistros; We. Need. Partners! When deciding to put millions of dollars at risk, these partners will be looking for a consolidated council they can work with. Though many other cities have this same desire, it is not their #1 task. With this in mind, our current job becomes almost entirely an exercise of math and economics. Should we enact policies and plans that enhance our Bond rating? Yes. Should we refinance and save money? Yes. If we can afford it, should we fix buildings, pave streets, decorate our City, plan for walkability and transit, get new playground equipment, and partner with other cities and agencies in order to serve our citizens better? Yes, yes, YES! This is a council that can recognize capable accounting, has good business sense, and is advocating for its citizens – unanimously! From this perspective, a 7-0 vote from the council means that the community has elected well in order to expedite their most important desires! It means that there is a consensus in the community about what is important and all of the current councilmembers have embraced that. Yes, it is unusual and this is something to be thankful for. It is something that most cities would applaud and hope for; that their City might move forward quickly and with purpose. A council that is continually in debate at the dais can indicate many things including deep philosophical differences that are coming into play in policy-making. However, all city councils in this State – including Des Moines – are non-partisan positions, and for good reason. At the municipal level, there should be very few deeply-partisan policy decisions at the table. Council consensus means that a City Staff can now take action with every item on that agenda and that they will not have to wait for another day. It means that our streets, parks, codes, Marina, Market, events (and a myriad of other items) move forward with priority. And, it sends a message to current and future economic partners that their investment will be at less risk. We are working very hard for our community because it is what you elected us to do, but also because we live here, too! A 7-0 vote means we are all in. – Traci Buxton
[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our engaged monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please cite your sources, remain civil and – pending our careful review – we’ll consider publishing it.]]]>