Election Officials Eyeing Larger Voter Turnouts for Some Metro Cities

DES MOINES, IOWA  --  With city elections around the corner, Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald says November 7th could bring a boom in votes for metro cities like Windsor Heights.

"In Windsor Heights having three people run for mayor and nine people run for three seats on city council, there are a couple hot issues out there, whether it's sidewalks or speed cameras," Fitzgerald said.

Mayor races in Altoona, Bondurant, Clive, Elkhart, Grimes, Johnston, Mitchellville, Pleasant Hill, Sheldahl, Urbandale, and West Des Moines are all uncontested.

"It is almost all competition driven. If communities don't have a race, these turnouts are going to be under five percent."

Des Moines voter turnout hasn't crossed the 13% turnout mark since 2003, but with over 125,000 registered voters, Fitzgerald says early signs like the race for the city council seat in Ward 3 between Michael Kiernan, Josh Mandalbaum, and Abshir Omar are threatening that mark.  He said, "Especially with the early voting, it is going to be the fifth biggest turnout we've had since 1989.  Whether or not that translates into the polls remains to be seen."

Fitzgerald believes they are already feeling those shockwaves.

"You are seeing television ads, mailers, door knockers.  They are really out there pressing the flesh to try to get someone to vote for them."

Longtime Des Moines resident Jean Minahan lives in the middle of that Ward 3 battle zone, and it has caught her attention.

"It is an election and I vote all the time.  It is one of the ones I have been looking at, and I went to one forum to look at what they have to say," she said.

While general elections may receive the glory, Jean believes voting for city leaders can be just as powerful, if not more.

"I'd say vote because these are the people who really make decisions about your immediate lives."

Anyone in Polk County wishing to vote early can do so at the auditor's office downtown at 120 2nd Avenue.  The last day to vote early is Monday, November 6th before 5 p.m.