Looking for leadership in West Des Moines: A case for change

Local elections are coming up this Tuesday, November 7. Julie Stauch shares her perspective on the candidates running in West Des Moines, the largest Des Moines suburb and eighth-largest city in Iowa. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Last winter, in response to the bill by Representative Jarad Klein that went after the Des Moines area water utilities, I became involved to stop that horrific piece of legislation. I went to my first Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement meeting and learned that West Des Moines was one of the suburbs where our leaders had not spoken out against the legislation. I volunteered to go to the next city council meeting and make what I thought was an easy ask – oppose this legislation.

And I learned firsthand of the dysfunction of our system of government and the deceit of our city leaders.

That led to a desperate need to find actual leaders – people who will represent the people of the city and not just themselves – which has taken me down the path of civic activist in a way that I haven’t traveled since the 1980s when we lived in Mason City. I’ve met and connected with a great group of West Des Moines residents seeking leaders who will be thoughtful, engaging and listen to all points of view.

Here are my thoughts and recommendations for West Des Moines residents. We need you to vote! Change begins here and now. Below are my assessments and recommendations on our candidates.

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Weekend open thread: New Iowa Democratic Party leadership edition

Following a less acrimonious campaign than what unfolded in December and January, the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted yesterday for Troy Price to lead the party through 2018. Price brings a lot of relevant experience to the job. He worked in the Vilsack and Culver administrations and led the LGBT advocacy organization One Iowa during the 2010 election campaign, when conservatives targeted Iowa Supreme Court justices and other supporters of marriage equality. Later, he served as political director for Organizing for Iowa, was the Iowa Democratic Party’s executive director during the 2014 election cycle, and was a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign before the 2016 caucuses.

Sentiment against Price was brewing in some private Facebook groups near the beginning of this short campaign for a new statewide party leader. Some activists distrusted him because he had worked for Clinton’s operation and was running Todd Prichard’s gubernatorial campaign until a couple of weeks ago. Those feelings didn’t gain steam, partly because unlike the last time, there was no “Bernie” candidate for state party chair this go around. Also, Price reached out personally to central committee members, and a few activists with clout vouched for him privately and publicly. Robert Becker, who ran the Sanders campaign in Iowa, posted on Friday that Price would be an “outstanding” chair. Jon Neiderbach, the only gubernatorial candidate who was a public supporter of Sanders for president, didn’t endorse anyone to lead the party but said he was confident Price would be even-handed if elected.

I was disappointed to learn that some prominent labor union leaders and supporters conducted a whispering campaign against Julie Stauch, Price’s main rival in this race. The backstory here is a mystery to me; I’ve known Stauch for more than 20 years and never seen any sign that she isn’t staunchly pro-labor. Unions are a powerful constituency within the Iowa Democratic Party, providing financial support and sometimes endorsements that influence primaries. It would be helpful for labor leaders to stick to the case for their preferred candidate, instead of making up reasons not to support someone else. More than a few state central committee members were turned off by the negative campaigning against Stauch, who handled the situation with class.

CORRECTION: It was more than a whispering campaign. A reader pointed me to this public thread in which Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro said, “Labor is with Troy, we have no time to waste,” and AFSMCE’s longtime President Danny Homan added, “The only hope for the IDP is Troy Price.” Pressed on their reasoning, Wawro and Homan both mentioned Price being at the Capitol during debates over key anti-labor legislation this year–as if Iowa Democrats who were not physically at the statehouse on those days don’t share the same views. That kind of litmus test won’t be helpful as Price tries to build bridges between different party factions.

I enclose below more links on the State Central Committee meeting and Price’s top priorities as state chair.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. Readers who want to help select the Democratic nominee for governor should block out Monday, February 5, 2018 on your calendars. The precinct caucuses held that evening will select delegates to county conventions, which on March 24 will select delegates to the district and state conventions. If no gubernatorial candidate receives at least 35 percent of the vote in next year’s primary, the state convention delegates will choose a nominee on June 16. John Deeth has more to say on next year’s caucus-to-convention process.

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Latest news on the Iowa Democratic Party leadership contest

Former Iowa Democratic Party executive director Troy Price will seek the state chair position, he confirmed this afternoon. I enclose below the e-mail Price sent to State Central Committee members, who will elect Derek Eadon’s successor on July 22. Excerpt:

I have previously served as Executive Director of IDP, where among other things I developed and managed an $8 million coordinated campaign – the largest non-presidential coordinated campaign in Iowa’s history. My state leadership roles also include two presidential campaigns, staring with President Obama’s re-election in 2012, building and nurturing donor and organizational relationships all across the state. I have developed and managed communications for two Democratic Governors. Plus, I ran One Iowa, the State’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, during a time of great challenge following the loss in 2010 of three Supreme Court justices who supported the Varnum decision.

The biggest challenge for Price over the next two weeks will be winning over State Central Committee members elected by delegates who favored Bernie Sanders for president. Some Sanders supporters retain strong anti-establishment feelings, and Price was Hillary Clinton’s political director here before the 2016 caucuses. I have not heard of any “Berniecrat” planning to run for chair, though. During the last leadership contest, Blair Lawton had the most support from the Sanders wing on the State Central Committee, followed by Kim Weaver. Neither Lawton nor Weaver is seeking the position now.

Julie Stauch is the only other confirmed candidate to lead the Iowa Democratic Party. Bill Brauch told me this afternoon, “I have withdrawn as a chair candidate, for my own health reasons.” Kurt Meyer is still considering another bid for party chair.

For the last several months, Price has been running State Representative Todd Prichard’s gubernatorial campaign. Going forward, John Davis will manage day-to-day operations for Prichard, and Jesse Harris will be a policy adviser.

UPDATE: Bob Krause joined Stauch and Price at a forum organized by the Iowa Democratic Party’s Veterans Caucus in Waterloo on July 8. Krause was one of eight candidates who campaigned for the party’s top job last winter; I posted more background on him here.

Meanwhile, Meyer told Bleeding Heartland on July 9 that he has decided against running for state party chair again.

I looked long and hard at what the Party needs and what I could do to be helpful. I engaged in conversations with a number of people, mostly people inside the Party, activists, candidates, etc. I urged Troy Price to run for the Chair position and am very pleased that he’s seeking the post. I decided the best way for me to be of service is to do everything I can to help the Party’s efforts to raise money… that’s what I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future. I’ve agreed to head up a statewide Finance Committee. And although I agreed to this post when the previous Chair was in place, I am very eager to work with our new incoming Party Chair.

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First look at possible new Iowa Democratic Party leaders

Derek Eadon announced this morning that he resigning as Iowa Democratic Party state chair, having recently been diagnosed with “Trigeminal Neuralgia, a painful but non-lethal ailment that requires radiation procedures over the summer.” I enclose below the full text of an e-mail Eadon sent to Iowa Democratic Party county chairs and State Central Committee members.

About fifty State Central Committee members will elect Eadon’s successor on July 22. I have reached out to the other seven Democrats who ran for state party chair in January.

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