Change Address

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City of Des Moines Council Position No. 3

The City Council is the legislative body for the City. The Council adopts local laws (ordinances) to secure the safety and assist the well-being of the city residents, the city's physical environment and amenities, and the city economy. The Council is responsible for approving financial expenditures and adopting the city budget as well as establishing policies and regulations in order to guide the city's future. The elected mayor serves as chief administrative officer for the city.
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Biographical Information

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastucture?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

What is your commitment to senior citizens?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

What are other major issues facing your city or town?

Of those listed above, which one is the most urgent?

What methods will you use to work with the mayor (if you have an elected mayor) or the city manager or administrator(if you have an chief administrator hired by the council)?

Email mail@jcharrisfordesmoines.com
YouTube Video http://jcharrisfordesmoines.com/video
Town where you live Des Moines
Experience (300 characters max) In the past I've been a successful small business owner. For twenty years I've been sailing and fishing and an active member of my church here. Now I'm one of Des Moines most prominent and informed activists on several important city issues including the airport and neighborhoods.
1. The Marina bulkhead is in desperate need of repair.

2. We keep diminishing the utility and community value of the Marina with short-sighted schemes like paid parking, removing the boat launch and reducing available moorage. The Marina has always been the great commons for residents. How can we call Des Moines ‘The Waterland City’ if we don’t maintain it as such?

3. Our playgrounds and parks need refurbishing and expansion. Many young families are moving in and they deserve great parks, playgrounds, walking trails and all the other amenities that are important for great neighborhoods.

4. Sewer and storm water need a great deal of work.

5. Our local streets are also in need of repair—many due to the above drainage problems, but still more have simply reached the end of their useful lives.

6. The city will soon switch to 4th generation cell towers. We should negotiate for better deals with utilities and make sure that obsolete equipment is properly removed.
I’ve done a lot of volunteering on this. Years ago, my wife and I helped start the women’s shelter in Burien and we saw how poorly people in crisis are often treated. Like many cities, Des Moines tends to respond to the problem with police, private agencies or frankly just pretending the problem will go away. This lets many homeless people fall through the cracks. Many of the chronically homeless have mental health issues and the city needs to work to find partners to provide housing and support systems.

But a great many of the recently homeless are just like you and me except that they don’t have the funds to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps. They end up in tents when they don’t have the enormous amount of front money one needs to even get an apartment or a car so they can get a job or go to school and turn things around. The city can develop programs to assist these people with short-term loans or subsidies –before- they sink into permanent homelessness.
Des Moines has always been a city with a very strong senior community. I have friends who live at Wesley Gardens and I remember a time when it was so well-regarded that there was a five year wait list to get a bungalow! To that end, I am committed to making dramatic improvements in our Parks and Recreation office to provide more services that our seniors have a right to expect. I also want to provide easier transportation between various senior communities and a newly renovated Marina and Downtown.

Sadly, many seniors are not so fortunate. We have far too many elderly residents who need help with basics such as food and heat. Often there are already programs to help but the awareness is low. The city can do a much better job of outreach--identifying people who need help and then directing them to the services they have a right to expect.
I favor restoring DACA for the short term and developing a comprehensive immigration reform in the long-run.

It is not business of the city to perform immigration enforcement by proxy.
1. Reduce flights over Des Moines. In addition to noise, we have some of the highest cancer rates in the nation! This makes it hard to attract businesses, residents and visitors.

2. Diversify city revenue away from airport-related business. We should work to attract businesses based on our Marina, our great location and Highline College.

3. Create a long-term city plan. We should work hard to attract workers in the Seattle and Eastside tech hubs but who have been priced out of those housing markets.

4. Crime due to mental health and addiction. These are problems jails cannot handle. Develop regional partnerships with the -right- kinds of programs. Build a new center to handle people with chronic mental health and substance abuse issues.

5. Improve resident participation. Voter turnout is around 30% now and the average voting age is almost 52! Many talented residents do not contribute either because they are unaware of opportunities or because they feel their input is not wanted!
I’ll have to roll three things into one as they really are just different facets of the same problem: The airport, long term planning and diversifying the city’s income stream. The current city council has made a strategic decision to encourage as much airport-related business as possible. This is a huge mistake, not only because the airport is so detrimental to our citizens’ health and well-being, but also because it makes the city’s fortunes rise and fall with the success of the airport.

The city needs to immediately take steps to diversify its income stream –away- from the airport and –towards- businesses that appeal to the kinds of residents and visitors we want to attract.
Above all, I hope to forge compromise through courtesy, commitment and hard work.

The fact is that I am a ‘change candidate’ so there will be many areas of disagreement between myself and the existing council and I won’t always be able to get everyone on my side.

However I believe that by demonstrating a strong and sincere work ethic, we can earn each other’s respect and come to agreement on how best to move the city forward.
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