Why we're supporting Sheila Knoploh-Odole

Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts endorsing progressive candidates in local elections. Kathy Byrnes and Ed Fallon are climate activists with Bold Iowa in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Even with the relentless focus on the presidential campaign, it’s important that we now turn our attention to local elections. There’s one race in particular that we want to weigh in on: the at-large seat for the Des Moines City Council.

A whole lot of fine candidates have thrown their hats into the ring. But one candidate stands out: Sheila Knoploh-Odole. (Yes, Sheila’s last name is a mouthful — try saying it “ka-NO-plo oh-DOH-lay. Come on. If we can learn how to pronounce “Buttigieg,” we’ve got this. And for reference, you’ll see Sheila’s nickname — SKO, or Sheila KO — on yard signs and literature across Des Moines.)

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Des Moines City Council members flouted gender balance requirement

Two Des Moines City Council members seeking re-election on November 5 used their appointment powers to perpetuate a gender imbalance on a key board in the state’s largest city, despite a state law requiring certain local boards to have no more than a simple majority of male or female members.

Joe Gatto, who represents Ward 4, and Linda Westergaard (Ward 2) both named men to fill vacancies on the Des Moines Plan and Zoning Commission when state law indicated a woman should have been appointed. Gatto has done so twice. The second time, his choice worsened the commission’s imbalance and happened well before the end of a statutory period during which officials are supposed to make a “good faith effort” to find someone from the underrepresented gender.

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Joe Gatto is not fit to serve Des Moines Ward 4

Brent Newman is a resident of Ward 4 in the city of Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

Joe Gatto, who “represents” Ward 4 on the Des Moines City Council, proudly displays a picture of him with Donald Trump in his Des Moines restaurant. Which seems out of touch considering the demographics of this side of the city.

The framed photo of Trump is one small example of how Gatto does not understand what being a public servant means, nor does he reflect the integrity and welcoming spirit of those who call the south side and east side their home.

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School board elections matter. How to find out where candidates stand

Bruce Lear: “For too long, many communities have elected nice, willing, sincere people to school boards, without an understanding of what they believe. That leads to trouble.” -promoted by Laura Belin

It was my third year teaching in a tiny Iowa town. I was a rookie no longer. I was off probation now, a seasoned veteran teacher with six preps in charge of the yearbook. Also, because of the six preps and no time for the restroom, I had left an Association meeting to pee. When I returned, I found my campaign, and my inauguration for president had occurred in my absence. It had not been a vigorous campaign.

As a result, on a cold night in February of 1983, I found myself at a school board meeting to help defend a popular principal who was being fired by an unpopular superintendent. No, the Association doesn’t represent principals in Iowa, but in a small town where everyone played cards and went to church with other school people, it didn’t matter. I was the defense.

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