By Jack Mayne
Des Moines Mayor Matt Pina opened the Nov. 4 City Council meeting with a statement about recent legal problems alleged against Councilmember Anthony Martinelli.
An hour later the Council voted 6–1 for censure, with Martinelli the only vote opposed.
The official censure will remove Martinelli from all committee assignments.
As we previously reported, Martinelli was arrested Oct. 22, 2021 on suspicion of six domestic violence-related offenses – including harassment, reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault – stemming from three incidents dating to December 2020. He was jailed at the SCORE South Correctional Regional Jail in Des Moines and released Oct. 26.
“I must address a significant event that has occurred,” the mayor said at the outset.
“Over the past 10 days, we have been appraised of police action resulting in charges being filed against Mr. Anthony Martinelli. He was booked into SCORE Jail, and had an arraignment hearing.
“At the arraignment hearing, Mr. Martinelli was charged with six counts of domestic violence allegedly inflicted against his partner, and in certain incidences, with their infant child observing the events.
“These are extremely serious charges, unacceptable and violent,” Mayor Pina told Council. “Simply because someone is a city Councilmember does not exempt them from the zero-tolerance policies. It brings dishonor to the City Council.”
Pina said “I encourage Martinelli to immediately submit his resignation.”
Pina asked Council to approve drafting such a censure motion against Martinelli that encouraged his resignation and to bring it back for Council action at its Nov. 18 meeting. The proposal was seconded by Councilmember Traci Buxton, who said the incident “was disturbing on many levels.”
Buxton said she was “in strong support of censure” and said he should resign from Council and that citizens write their feelings on the issue to the Council.
More citizens should speak out
Councilmember Luisa Bangs said she also supported Martinelli leaving the Council. She added she was surprised at the few citizens who spoke up against the domestic violence issue but “more and more” are now speaking out.
Bangs told Council she “was so disheartened at the fact that we haven’t had that many citizens speak up. There is absolutely no cause, reason or rhyme why a man should put his hands on a woman; why a man should have his own child in jeopardy behind what has occurred with this woman. Frankly, as I said earlier, I am totally disgusted.”
She favored Council censure of Martinelli.
Councilmember Matthew Mahoney said he supported the public making a public records request to view Martinelli’s 136 page police report on the incident and that he not continue on the Council public safety committee. “I implore Mr. Martinelli to resign” from Council “as a distraction.”
Councilmember Jeremy Nutting said “the arrest and accusation of six counts of domestic violence against Councilmember Martinelli are enough to warrant his arrest and have him serve jail time.” They are “deplorable and, of themselves, enough for me to believe that Councilmember Martinelli is not fit to make decisions for our city. I wholeheartedly ask for him to resign and support the censure.”
Councilmember J.C. Harris said “it would have been better if Councilmember Martinelli had been afforded an opportunity to speak on his own behalf before we considered this motion” but does “not detract from the seriousness of the issue.”
Video of discussion
Below is raw video showing the council’s discussion of censuring Martinelli (running time 11-minutes, 45-seconds):