50 Things I’ll Work on if Elected – Anthony Martinelli for Des Moines City Council

If elected to Des Moines City Council, Position 06, below are 50 things I will work towards:

 

  • Improving public safety

Why?

Crime rates in Des Moines are unfortunately higher now than they were just five or 10 years ago. We need to put a larger focus on improving public safety, including increasing funding for our police so they can quickly hire new officers.

  • Improving government transparency 

Why?

Far too often city leaders pass laws or make considerable changes (such as tax increases) without first consulting with the public or giving them any notice that such a move is going to take place. If on the city council I would make it one of my primary goals to consistently inform the public of what the council – and me as an individual councilmember – is working on, and give them as much notice as possible on all impending votes. It’s well past time our city government becomes more transparent.

  • Increasing the city’s focus on homelessness and growing poverty rates

Why?

Our city’s issues with homelessness and high poverty rates have gotten worse in recent years, and need to be addressed. I would do this through actions such as increasing funding for homeless services, making a stronger push to add more affordable housing to our city, and decreasing taxes and fees.

  • Increasing the city’s focus on mental health issues

Why?

Our city (and really our entire nation) is experiencing a mental health crisis. If elected one of my top priorities would be to increase and improve access to mental health care across the city.

  • Bringing back free parking at the Marina and Beach Park for Des Moines residents

Why?

The fact that Des Moines residents are required to pay to park at their own marina – which was free for decades prior to the change in 2017 – is something I oppose. In justifying the policy city leaders say that the funding is being used to pay for the failing seawall, but at current revenue rates it would take over 60 years for paid parking fees to cover the $12 million in repairs needed (it has yet to even make up the $700,000 it cost to install the parking gates).

If elected I would work to once again make marina parking free for those who live in Des Moines, while retaining paid parking for those visiting from outside the city. Given that city data shows these individuals make up 70-80% of marina visitors, making parking free for just residents would have a small impact on the current revenue rate, and will allow for the continuation of reduced crime rates.

  • Supporting a reduction in airplane noise and pollution

Why?

We don’t fully understand the potential health risks of consistent, round-the-clock flights, and the research that has been released give us plenty of cause for concern. If elected to the Des Moines City Council I would support proposals (such as this one) demanding a stop to any further flight increases, and to place a nighttime curfew on flights over Des Moines.

  • Enhancing the business climate

Why?

Businesses are the backbone of any city. With that in mind, if elected to the city council I would work to ensure that the city does a better job of promoting and retaining its businesses and enhancing the business climate, through ideas such as establishing a comprehensive business directory, and through the study of ideas such as having the city sell discounted vouchers which could be used at Des Moines-based businesses.

  • Reducing car tab fees

Why?

Des Moines has one of the highest car tab fees in the state, which can be a hindrance for those on a strict budget. If elected to the city council I would work to cut the city’s car tab fee in half, putting it in line with most of the cities in the state.

  • Allowing voters to choose the mayor

Why?

Under current law voters in Des Moines don’t elect the city’s mayor. Instead, the city council chooses amongst themselves to appoint the mayor. If elected to the city council I would work to change this policy so that the mayor is a position chosen by the people, which is a far more democratic process. I believe we should do this without changing any of the power and responsibilities of the mayor (who has just one vote and no veto power but does run meetings and appoint committee members), and without removing the position of city manager.

  • Expanding youth programs to provide children with more activities,  events and programs to participate in outside of school

Why?

Studies have shown that cities with more youth programs experience lower youth crime rates. Children need things to do, and the city should do its best to give them options.

  • Giving Des Moines a stronger voice in Olympia

Why?

I have years of experience developing and advocating for legislation with nonprofit organizations, and years of experience working with and for state lawmakers. If elected to the city council I would use this experience and expertise to give Des Moines a more prominent voice in Olympia, and would advocate for the state to give the city a bigger focus and recognize us as the blossoming and potential-filled city we truly are.

  • Studying municipal broadband

Why?

Currently just a couple companies – namely Comcast and Century Link – control internet access in our city.  This has led to them getting away with ridiculously high prices and bad service. A city-operated municipal broadband system would put the power in the hands of the people, giving them a public option for internet access. Many cities have had success with these type of programs, which have resulted in drastically lower costs and faster service, all while giving consumers an option to “shop local” when it comes to internet. In many of these localities, municipal broadband has also resulted in companies like Comcast offering significantly faster internet due to the increased competition. Although the city would have to pay for the initial infrastructure, it would eventually pay for itself and potentially even become a revenue source for the city.

Preferably any municipal broadband system we establish would offer internet for free, or at a highly discounted rate ($15-$20 a month), for those who fall below the poverty line.

Given that there have been both successes and failures in regards to municipal broadband, I support the city conducting a study on the issue to determine logistics and specifics before actually implementing it.

  • Establishing term limits for city council members

Why?

When councilmembers remain in office for 15 or even 20+ years, it can too easily lead to corruption or at least stagnation. I support establishing either an 8 or 12 year term limit on all city council positions.

  • Bringing back a play set at the Marina Beach Park, while exploring other options to enhance the area for children and families such as a splash pad

Why?

The Beach Park is great, but there’s not enough for kids to do. I would work to place a new play set at this location, and would explore other options such as building a free splash pad similar to what is found at Angle Lake.

  • Placing a moratorium on 5G towers 

Why?

Recently the city council voted to allow 5G towers to be placed throughout the city. However, we don’t know the potential health impacts of such towers (which is why the vote wasn’t unanimous as is the case with over 90% of votes conducted by the council), and several studies – including one by the United Nations – are currently being conducted. I would support placing a moratorium on these towers until more research is available. If the research indicates that they aren’t a health risk, we can easily remove the moratorium. If the studies conclude that they are a serious health concern, then we should make the moratorium permanent.

  • Holding accountable property owners who don’t adequately respond to issues put forth by businesses who are renting their property

Why?

Too often business owners suffer from issues related to the property they occupy, only to have the land owners refuse to respond in a reasonable time frame or at all (which had led to businesses like Madi’s restaurant being forced to close their doors for months at a time). If elected I would explore all options to hold landowners accountable in these instances, including establishing a 2-week window in which all owners much respond to formal complaints sent in by businesses renting their building when safety is a concern.

  • Putting a boat launch back at the Marina

Why?

Many people I’ve spoken with want a boat  launch – like there was years ago – placed at the Marina. If elected I would work towards accomplishing this.

  • Increasing the number of marijuana outlets allowed in the city to five

Why?

Currently there is just one marijuana outlet in the city. This not only gives them a monopoly within the city, it limits the city’s potential tax revenue from marijuana sales and forces those who are using it for medical purposes to wait in long lines in order to buy their medicine. I would work to expand the allowed number of legal marijuana outlets to four, which is a more reasonable number for a city of over 30,000 (and if the market decides four is too many, then less will survive).

  • Supporting a 5% citywide tax on marijuana sales

Why?

Because cities split just $50,000 out of every $1 million in taxes brought in from marijuana sales, Des Moines receives a minimal figure. Placing a 5% citywide tax on marijuana would bring in nearly half a million in new annual revenue for Des Moines  (and that’s based on having just one outlet), which could be used to improve public safety.

Generally I am against tax increases, but I believe this would have a minimal impact on people’s lives (at most it would add $0.50 per $10 gram) while having a large impact on our city’s budget. It is true that under current state law localities aren’t allowed to place their own tax on marijuana, but I’m working with a group of bipartisan state lawmakers to pass a bill that would lower the state marijuana tax from 37% to 30%, while allowing cities to place a citywide tax of up to 7% (meaning even if Des Moines passed a 5% tax, prices would actually be slightly lower).

  • Removing taxes on feminine hygiene products and offering them for free at public restrooms

Why?

Feminine hygiene products are a necessity and should not be taxed. In addition, they should be readily available in public restrooms. Those who are low-income shouldn’t have to fear going without these products if there’s an instance when they can’t afford them.

  • Placing all electrical wires underground

Why?

Placing all electric wires underground would not only improve aesthetics, it would help to combat storm-related power outages.

  • Increasing the minimum wage to $14.50 an hour

Why?

As  mentioned in an above point, poverty rates have continue to increase in our city in recent years. Although raising the minimum wage to $14.50 an hour won’t solve this problem, it will be a huge help to those on a strict budget. And given it’s only $1 an hour increase over what the state recently approved as our statewide minimum wage ($13.50 an hour), it should have a fairly small impact on businesses (concerns over businesses is why I don’t support raising it as high as $15 or $16 an hour as some other cities have done and are considering).

  • Increasing paid sick and maternity leave

Why?

I support expanding paid sick leave and maternity leave by an additional four weeks each.

  • Expanding upon our relationship with neighboring cities

Why?

When we work with our neighboring cities, we accomplish a lot. I would expand upon the relationships and partnerships we currently have, while building new ones.

  • Placing a police substation along Pac Hwy (potentially between the 216th Safeway and McDonalds)

Why?

As mentioned in the first point of this article, crime rates are higher now than they were just a few years ago. A joint substation has been placed near Redondo, which is great, but I support placing an addition substation along the portion of Pac Hwy that’s close to the 216th Safeway, in order to increase police presence and patrols in the area.

  • Either establishing a comprehensive and easily navigable website dedicated to informing the public of everything the council is considering and working on, everything they’ve voted on at recent meetings, etc., or completely overhauling the city’s current website to accomplish the same goal

Why?

To improve transparency.

  • Encouraging the council to hold one of its weekly meetings each month on a Saturday (whereas currently all meetings are held on Thursday), while moving the start time of all meetings from 7pm to 6pm

Why?

Many people I’ve spoken with simply can’t make a meeting that’s held exclusively on Thursday nights, either because of work, children, etc.. Because of this, I support changing one of the council’s weekly meetings (say, the first one each month) to a Saturday, allowing those who are only off on the weekend to attend.

I’ve also heard people complain that the meeting going to 9pm is too late. I support moving the meeting back an hour from 6pm to 8pm.

  • Increasing funding to the city’s food bank so that they can increase their offerings and can be open more than just three days a week

Why?

We have a great food bank, but as a city government we could do more to support it. I believe we should increase funding enough so that they can both increase their offerings and remain open five days a week rather than just three.

Currently the city grants around $30,000 a year to the food bank. I’d like to see this increased to around $70,000.

  • Ensuring that property rights are respected 

Why?

Property rights are a fundamental element of of our nation, and if elected I would work to ensure that they are protected and not intruded upon by local government .

  • Establishing  a no-interest loan program for those wanting to establish local coops

Why?

Establishing a no-interest loan program for coops, similar to what several other cities are testing, would allow for pools of citizens to join together to form a local cooperative (such as a food coop) without having to worry about coming up with the high initial costs. This would empower citizens and could lead to new, interesting businesses sprouting up throughout the city.

  • Establishing a required 45-day public comment period prior to the city council passing into law any tax or fee increases

Why?

The city council should not be allowed to pass any increases in taxes or fees without first launching a 45-day public comment period (that includes both in-person public hearings and a site for online comments).

  • Studying ways in which the city can work towards becoming carbon neutral

Why?

Climate change is a serious issue that our city should do all it can to help combat, including working towards becoming entirely carbon neutral. But as a small city with a small budget, we need to properly study what actions could be done before doing them to ensure that they’re financially reasonable.

  • Establishing a centralized, multi-faceted community center

Why?

One of the primary things I’ve heard requested from residents of our city while knocking on doors and making  phone calls, is that they want a centralized community center – something which can serve as a means  of bringing the community together. If elected I will work towards making this happen.

  • Live-streaming all city-operated events and meetings

Why?

City council meetings are thankfully live-streamed on the city’s website, but many other meetings and city-ran events aren’t. I support putting a bigger effort into live-streaming any city-ran event.

  • Establishing a comprehensive online and in-print directory of all businesses located in the city

Why?

A comprehensive business directory would supply residents (and those visiting) with a detailed list of all businesses in the city, making it even easier to shop local. This directory should be free for the community and it should be free to businesses to be placed within it.

  • Establishing a free preschool program

Why?

I strongly support free universal preschool, given how important preschool can be for a growing mind. As a small city funding such a program will definitely take a financial commitment, but it’s worth it to help ensure that children aren’t being punished or held back simply because their family can’t afford preschool or can’t find one in the area that has a reasonable cost.

  • Exploring options for establishing a waterfront dog park 

Why?

I believe a waterfront, off-leash dog park would be an excellent addition to our community, and I would work to help bring one to our city.

  • Putting a larger focus on establishing more family-friendly events

Why?

Des Moines has several fun and interesting events, but we could and should do more to hold and bring in additional events, especially events that are designed to be fun for all ages.

  • Modernizing and expanding our parks

Why?

The city has done a decent job in recent months renovating certain parks. I would work to continue and expand upon this, while also seeking ways in which we can modernize our parks and make them as interesting and fun for children as possible.

  • Establishing more community gardens

Why?

Community gardens are an excellent way to bring the community together and support sustainability. We have a couple, but I support expanding this so that we have five to 10 throughout the city.

  • Requiring a 90-day notice for rent increases

Why?

For many individuals and families, even a small increase in the cost of rent can result in a huge burden that may even force them to move. Because of this, I support passing a law that requires tenants to be given at least a 90-day notice before their rent is increased (regardless of the amount). This may not solve the problem of someone no longer being able to afford their rent if it’s increased, but will give them more time to plan accordingly.

  • Establishing a nightly community meal program for those in need

Why?

The city should provide (or at least fund) a nightly hot meal to those who are homeless and low-income in order to ensure that low-income individuals and families don’t have to go hungry if they can’t afford dinner.

  • Placing a larger focus on speeding

Why?

Certain areas of the city and certain neighborhoods (such as Redondo) often experience large amounts of excessive speeding, which is a danger to everyone particularly children. I would work to address this by establishing more speed bumps and visible speedometers.

  • Establishing a text alert system and app for city-related issues such as road closures, police activity, etc.

Why?

To keep residents as informed and safe as possible.

  • Exploring the potential of a mobile food program

Why?

To ensure that we are doing everything we can to help those in need, and those who may not have enough money to supply themselves and/or their family with enough food to stay nourished.

  • Increasing the city’s marketing efforts for important meetings and events

Why?

Currently the city doesn’t do enough to inform residents about upcoming meetings and events, such as city council meetings and budget retreats, which has played a part in their low attendance rate. Through the city’s website, social media outlets, local media outlets, etc., I would work to ensure that the city does a better job of promotion.

  • Reducing utility taxes

Why?

Utility taxes have risen substantially in recent years, to the point where they’ve become a massive hindrance for low-income individuals and families. I would work to lower this to a more reasonable level.

  • Increasing funding for emergency response services

Why?

Whether it be a huge snow storm, earthquake, etc., we need to be as prepared as possible. I would support increasing funding for emergency response services by a third.

  • Exploring ways to establish a year-long indoor farmer’s market

Why?

Our farmer’s market is great, but is only open for a short period of time. I support establishing a market that’s open all year long, similar to the one in Olympia.

  • Increasing community outreach and communication among city government officials through methods such as a bi-weekly newsletter, a bi-monthly Q&A sessions, etc.

Why?

Our city government doesn’t do enough outreach to the community. I would work to resolve this through actions such as establishing a bi-weekly newsletter and bi-monthly Q&A sessions with city leaders (particularly the council, city manager and police chief).

 

 

If you have any comments, suggestions or critiques about this list please feel free to contact me directly at Info@MartinelliforCouncil.com or (206)799-8696.

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