Connie Boesen is running for Mayor of Iowa’s capital city and largest city by population, Des Moines. Why? Because she wants Des Moines open for business. Des Moines’ current mayor, Frank Cownie has served since 2003.
Boesen formerly served on the Des Moines Public School board and currently serves on the Des Moines city council. Iowa State Fair goers may know her as the apple lady behind Applishus. She explains her desire is to focus on economic development in both downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. To do that she wants to replicate the success of InvestDSM and recruit new businesses to come into Des Moines.
She also addresses challenges in the schools, absence rates, addressing homelessness, improving public safety by addressing core problems, and how intrusive the city should be on mandating garages and tiny houses.
Why is Boesen running?
“One of my biggest focuses that we’re open for business. I think that we have a lot of economic development that we can still do in Des Moines.” said Boesen. “…that’s really the reason I ran for city council to begin with, was investment back in our neighborhoods.”
Boesen also spoke about the InvestDSM program that has been responsible for success in the Highland Park neighborhood on the North side of Des Moines. InvestDSM started because of low property value concerns, and therefore lower tax revenue for the city.
“Back in 2017, they had a consultant come in to talk about how do we bring up property values in Des Moines. 40% of Des Moines you can’t tax. So with all the state government, as I look up at the Capitol, you know, we have fairgrounds. You have all the hospitals. All the schools. Boesen said. “How do you structurally support a city when so much is not being able to tax?
Boesen wants to expand programs like these to make the city a better place to live and increase tax revenues at the same time.
School Safety in Des Moines
Safety is also a concern. Years ago, Des Moines Public School (DMPS) announced they would discontinued the School Resource Officer (SRO) with the Des Moines Public Police Department. (DMPD) Students have called for officers to be put back in place, and even metal detectors but so far the school has not made any adjustments.
Boesen has discussed safety with the DMPD Chief and Superintendent and discussions are ongoing. They do have safety protocols in place, and the schools are doing intervention and mental health work, but Boesen didn’t announce future plans.
Boesen also explained how, after COVID, students didn’t come back to school. Some chose to work full time during COVID, and they decided not to come back.
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Safety, Sobering, and Mental Health
Boesen explained she is focusing on building a mental health team for DMPD that are better trained to deal with people dealing with various mental health challenges.
A growing percentage of interactions with the Police are with people that have mental health challenges. “I think that’s what we’re finding. I think everybody’s finding that the mental health issues are just getting more compounded.”
Understanding mental health issues can be complex, and having additional training is critical, explains Boesen.
She also has been working with Polk County on a sobering center, where the city can intervene and get people help sooner.
The discussion also focused on homelessness in Des Moines being not just a city problem, but an Iowa problem. Boesen also explained why bike-ability and walkability are important, why the city of Des Moines restricts tiny houses, and garages, and how to address the problem of big employers leaving massive buildings downtown.
Boesen is running against longtime fellow council member Josh Mandelbaum. Frank Cownie, who has served as Mayor of Des Moines since 2003, has not announced plans to run.
Boesen’s official campaign website is: connieboesen.com.