Many Iowa communities held runoff local elections today. The highest-profile races are for two Des Moines City Council seats. Skip Moore and Leisha Barcus face off for the at-large seat vacated earlier this year by Michael Kiernan. On November 3 Barcus edged Moore by 32 percent to 30 percent, but this is anybody’s race. In recent days Mayor Frank Cownie endorsed Moore, who was already backed by many area labor unions. That should help him in a low-turnout environment. On the other hand, Barcus had the Des Moines Register’s endorsement and may have an advantage with west-side residents who voted for David Adelman on November 3.
Neither Barcus nor Moore lives in Des Moines’ first ward, where turnout is likely to be higher than in the city as a whole. In Ward 1, 20-year incumbent Tom Vlassis faces Drake University Law School student Halley Griess. I don’t envy the voters who faced this choice. Vlassis was knee-deep in the CIETC scandal and should have stepped down rather than run for a fifth term. Technically, city council elections are non-partisan, but it would have been nice to have a different Democrat on the ballot against Griess. I voted for two Republicans in Windsor Heights this year, but Griess seems like a real right-winger.
Turnout was relatively high (over 20 percent) for the Windsor Heights runoff, where four candidates compete for two at-large City Council seats. Only about 30 votes separated Betty Glover, Flo Hunter, Carole Tillotson and David Jenison on November 3. When Mr. desmoinesdem voted a little after 5 pm, he cast ballot number 271 in our precinct, which has about 1,200 registered voters. I expect this race to be decided by a handful of votes, so I’ve been making reminder calls the last few days to people who might not know about the candidates or remember the runoff date.
I’ll update this post later as results come in from the Des Moines area. Please post a comment about local election results in your corner of the state.
UPDATE: Preliminary results from the Polk County Auditor’s office: Moore defeated Barcus, 52 percent to 47 percent. Griess defeated Vlassis, 51 percent to 48.5 percent. If Griess becomes a rising Republican star, just remember that it could have been avoided if some people had talked Vlassis into retiring.
In West Des Moines Ward 1, Kevin Trevillyan defeated incumbent Robert Parks, 53 percent to 47 percent.
In Windsor Heights, incumbents Hunter and Tillotson were narrowly reelected. CORRECTION: Challengers Glover and Jenison won this election. I did not realize there was a precinct still to be counted in Windsor Heights when I wrote this last night. Glover and Jenison slightly increased their raw vote totals from November 3 to yesterday, which is remarkable. Typically turnout is significantly lower for a runoff.
SECOND UPDATE: The Cedar Rapids Gazette has results from two runoffs for City Council. Don Karr defeated Aaron Saylor, and Pat Shey defeated Jerry McGrane.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Des Moines Register explains how Moore won:
Moore won every precinct in northeast side Ward 2, where he lives, and handily won Ward 4 on the southeast side. Barcus ran strongest in southwest Des Moines’ Ward 3, and she held off Moore in Ward 1, where she captured roughly 57.5 percent of the vote.
However, there was a significant drop-off in voters in Ward 3, which hurt Barcus.
In a low-turnout election, it’s critical to turn out your base supporters.