DES MOINES, Iowa — After Des Moines City Council’s first in-person meeting since the pandemic hit was prematurely adjourned due to an eruption from protestors, candidates running for Council say they could do the job better.
The chaos began after the council passed a proposal to send a police officer to an $11,000 training seminar in Florida. It was a consent agenda item — which means it is typically unanimously passed and therefore not up for public discussion. People in the audience questioned the proposal, and were outraged with the item was not moved for public input.
Brandi Webber, who is running for Ward 3, was in an overflow room during Monday’s meeting. She said she feels the public uproar was completely justified.
“Because of the acts of the council — and nobody else — that boiled into an environment where the residents of our city don’t even feel like they can go through the normal channels of speaking to their city leaders and be heard in any capacity,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Indira Sheumaker, who is running to represent Ward 1.
Cory McAnelly, who is also running to represent Ward 3 was not at Monday’s meeting, but said it was predictable. He sent WHO 13 the following statement:
“What we saw last night is upsetting and is what happens when some on the City Council claim to be leaders for community voices but fail to be proactive. We have to have conversations about healthy relationships between our community and police before blow-up confrontations like last night. This wasn’t hard to see coming after being digital for a year and with the frustration expressed in previous meetings. These confrontations happen when current leadership is absente and not getting the job done proactively in our community.”Cory McAnelly, Ward 3 candidate
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said it’s “disappointing” that people who want to join City Council participate in or indicate any support of Monday night’s behavior.
“Is that how they feel like a city council meeting should be run to allow this kind of behavior? We’re generally very open to allowing people to make comment, sometimes even if they’re making comment that is not particularly supportive of some of the things that you know we’re trying to move forward,” he said.
Cownie said the city will plan to still hold in-person meetings in the future, but might reconsider depending on how future meetings go. The resumption of Monday’s meeting will take place at 7:30 a.m. virtually on Wednesday.