Photo of Anthony Martinelli courtesy City of Des Moines
By Nicholas Johnson

Des Moines Mayor Matt Pina says he hopes councilmember Anthony Martinelli has “the fortitude to resign” in light of Martinelli’s arrest Friday (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.

“As a Council, we do not condone this type of behavior and I am deeply saddened that he has tarnished the office in such a way,” Pina said in a written statement Friday (see statement below).

Position No. 6 councilmember Anthony J. Martinelli, who is being held at the SCORE South Correctional Regional Jail in Des Moines while he awaits an arraignment hearing, was taken into custody Friday afternoon following Judge Pauline Freund’s determination of probable cause and issuance of an arrest warrant earlier that day in Des Moines Municipal Court.

Citing a Tukwila police report, a Des Moines police report and several text-message threads, Des Moines City Prosecutor Tara B. Vaughn alleged in her Friday motion that Martinelli assaulted his partner in the presence of their young child in December 2020, and threatened to kill his partner in March 2021 and again in August 2021.

In her motion, Vaughn wrote: “… the City believes that the defendant is likely a danger to the community, specifically, the named victims as he is showing a pattern of increased violence towards [his partner] with no regard for the safety [of their child].”

Vaughn also wrote that the city believes Martinelli “will interfere with the administration of justice” and that his partner “is particularly susceptible to influence due to feelings of helplessness and isolation.

“He is an elected official well known and respected in the community with a stable income and strong local support system. What do I have?” Martinelli’s partner wrote to her mother in a Dec. 11, 2020, message, according to Vaughn’s motion.

“… the City believes there is a high likelihood that Mr. Martinelli is likely to commit a violent offense, and/or would attempt to interfere with the administration of justice by coaching [his partner] and/or trying to intimidate her as a witness,” Vaughn wrote in her motion.

According to court documents, Martinelli’s partner of four years told her mother about the incidents. Her mother contacted Des Moines police following the August incident.

In a Saturday post in a private Facebook group, Position No. 2 councilmember JC Harris, who was elected alongside Martinelli in 2019, said Pina seems to be “trying to politicize the issue” and said Pina spoke out of turn, in his capacity as mayor, in calling on Martinelli to resign his seat on the council.

“The Mayor … was right to want to make a statement quickly and decisively,” Harris wrote. “Delay would have made the City look insensitive. However, Mayor Pina should also have asked the Council for their input before speaking in his official role to insure the public that he also was not trying to politicize the issue.”

Nicholas Johnson (he/him) is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who grew up in Boulevard Park, graduated from Highline High School and studied journalism at Western Washington University. Send news tips, story ideas and positive vibes to


8 replies on “Des Moines Mayor calls for councilmember Martinelli’s resignation after arrest on domestic-violence allegations”

  1. Mr. Martinelli has shown his true colors and this outrageous behavior cannot be tolerated and Mr. Martinelli needs to resign immediately there is no place in Des Moines‘s for a person that has hate towards others. Thank you Mayor Pina for condemning this Domestic violence. Mr Harris please you are one politicizing this. Mr. Harris always uses any opportunity to take swipe at other council members when ever he can. This is instance when Mr. Harris does not know when keep his mouth shut. Mr. Harris what have you done in calling for a council meeting to address this intolerable Martinelli behavior. Mr. Harris you are part problem if you are not proposing a solution for Martinelli‘s resignation

  2. Martinelli should for sure step aside. No room for this within the city, let alone city leadership. I feel sorrow for those he’s impacted by this. Hopefully he does the right thing for the city and not selfishly think of himself.

  3. Very strange the same people who try to chase Wally’s out of town for their son’s behavior seem to be the same ones saying Martinelli’s behavior is okay….interesting how the mind works, isn’t it?

    1. they’re not saying his behavior is ok if the charges are true, they’re saying the report is filled with wholes and terrible reporting and a ton of politics so he may very well be innocent and have charges dropped. Shouldn’t have life destroyed over an allegation. Ethan on other hand was seen in video during the insurrection but ive never heard anthony call for his arrest or to be charged. if Anthony is guilty then he should resign and we should condemn him. most people don’t know if he’s guilty and the report makes it seem more likely he’s innocent.

      1. Henry you’re missing the point Mr. Martinelli and Ethan Nordean are not comparable. Mr. Martinelli literally was making policy that affected Wallys restaurant he is a elected councilmember. We all can make a choice whether we want to go to Wallys or not. However as long as Mr. Martinelli is an office he’s making choices and policy that affect all of us. You do not state one thing wrong with the report you just say the report is wrong. That does not make you right! Mr. Martinelli is demonstrated an attitude which can be viewed on zoom via the council member meetings where he is rude to other councilmembers. This is an example of his behavior getting out of hand. Mr. Martinelli behavior should be unapproachable he’s an ELECTED official. Period!
        I believe Carri point is extremely valid. Also the videos I’ve seen of Ethan Nordean at the capital the police were waving him into the building. Both Ethan Nordean and Martinelli have not been convicted however Ethan is not making policy while waiting trial Martinelli will be making policy while waiting trial that will continually affect us and his victims. Big Difference.

        1. Tony I agree with you about Martinelli. Sounds like he needs to resign, get a reality grip on his life and behaviors before he hurts anymore people.

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