EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was revised on Feb. 29, 2016:

Former Des Moines Mayor and longtime councilmember Donald F. Wasson passed away on Feb. 20, 2016.

Wasson was 90-years old, and was a well-known – although at times very outspoken – longtime local resident (read more about him here).

He served on the City Council, then as Mayor before resigning in 2003.

Former Mayor and current councilmember Dave Kaplan posted this comment about Wasson on his Facebook page:

“While he left a legacy of setback and obstruction for the City of Des Moines in his wake (including one of the largest campaign finance scandals in state history), I prefer to remember him as the guy who volunteered for years with Des Moines Kiwanis … most notably with their Waterland Festival salmon bake fundraiser, a guy whose father rowed ashore (where the Des Moines Marina now stands) and homesteaded when Don was just 1 year old, and a guy whose creative and precise machining ability for boat parts landed him work for his company with Boeing and other notable Northwest businesses. He had a wicked sense of humor, and (on occasion) he had his thoughtful insights as well.

I hope he finds the peace he needed.”

UPDATE: Don’s memorial service has been moved to Saturday, March 12, at 3 p.m. at Normandy Park Congregational Church, located at 19247 1st Avenue South in Normandy Park.

6 replies on “Former Mayor & Councilmember Don Wasson has passed; memorial March 12”

  1. Seems like what you really want to remember Don with is acrimony and criticism. Don was a good person who wanted to reveal the facts. He will be missed.

    There is an old saying, “If you can’t say something nice about a person, keep your mouth shut!” Some day your day will come and one wonders what they will say about you.

      1. For the record:

        Don Wasson was fined $2500 for his involvement in the noted election. He was also instructed never to run for public office again or face even more damages. The major target of the PDC was the Contractors who were heavily fined.


        My memories aren’t of the blemish on Don’s character for which he paid the fine assessed to him. That case is closed.

        I remember there is no evidence that Don profited personally from his service to the city.

        His joy was in serving the people of Des Moines. If you want to remember Don, thank him for protecting the city and people of Des Moines whom he loved. Don saved the people millions of dollars. Councilmember Kaplan called that service “setback and obstructionist” but Don would call it protecting his people against the abuse of power by the Council in collusion with the powerful. Recall this:

        The setting of the incident cited here was the construction of the Third Runway at SeaTac. Concerned about their properties, some wealthy landowners wanted to bring a lawsuit to stop construction of the runway and their estimates of value lost to them if built.

        Lawsuits are expensive, even for a rich man. Together, the schemers – Don thought – planned how to get the several cities to pay for their lawsuit. Under the guise of saving the cities, the schemers proceeded with their plan and went to the several cities to pitch their “Save the Cities” cabal. Of course most of the cities’ residents had no concerns about a Third Runway. Their concerns were about keeping a roof over their heads and finding enough food to feed their families.

        Without a vote from the people, the anti-runway movement was enacted in the form of an Interlocal agreement between cities plus the Highline School District and some minor nonpaying players. The official name of the creature was Airport Communities Coalition (ACC).

        The ACC, from the beginning, was the most ineptly conceived and managed project that did not have a prayer to succeed from the beginning; never had a chance of success. Now loaded with all that citizen money, the ACC and cohort began hiring law firms, and law firms to manage law firms. They generated jobs for themselves, issued credit cards for their use, and began spending money freely with no regard as only people using other people’s money will do. They did all that without regard to audit or who the ACC really was.

        Later, Don realized that if the people of Des Moines were to regain a semblance of control over this entity, ACC, he would have to stop it. He did. He and the newly elected Councilmembers defunded the Des Moines part of ACC funding. The other concomitant cities, one by one, withdrew their monetary support and the ACC died. Without Wasson’s action, the history of government affirms that once created government entities never die. Without Don Wasson, Des Moines would still be paying money for a moribund ACC and the families now poorer would still be looking for a roof over their head and food for their children and money to pay for new taxes.

        Councilmember Kaplan, I hope the death of Mayor Don Wasson allows you to give up your vitriol and you are relieved of all that resentment you harbor.

  2. Dave Kaplan, don’t you think 13 years is a long time to hold a grudge? –
    You may want to let go of the anger & move on with your life it would be healthy.
    Making disparaging remarks about the dead shows the depth of your lack of character.

  3. “I’ve lived my life trying to use common sense, and to maintain a good nature, which has made the pilgrimage of life not too difficult. But now, every day of my life forces me to add to the number of people who can kiss my ass!”
    Don Wasson.
    I am glad I had the opportunity to meet Mayor Wasson, after reading a couple of my Letters To The Editor that I had wrote, Mayor Wasson reached out and wanted to meet me, we developed this cool bond of friendship I enjoyed listening to his many stories that he had to share most of all the ones about our city the past and current leaders and how they had gotten us into our current state of Financial Disarray and Bankruptcy.
    I saw Mayor Wasson just a few weeks ago at the library with my daughter we talked briefly, I remember how tired he looked, that was the last time I seen him, he loved his city.
    You know Dave Kaplan in the ten years that we have lived here in Des Moines I have picked up on your snide and vengeful comments that you have made towards Mayor Wasson, at first I had no idea and did not understand, well that sure has changed, you can say whatever you want now because it doesn’t matter anymore, Don Wasson will never be remembered as the Mayor who Bankrupted the City of Des Moines, that one goes to you Dave Kaplan.
    Dave I hope you can find that peace in yourself that you need.

  4. Whether you liked the man or not, Don Wasson made it be known his feelings. He was not known to be hiding behind bureaucracy as others have. Judge the man by his beliefs, not in what you perceive. Don loved and cared for his city, you can’t fault him on that…Rr

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