West Des Moines Woman Makes Historical Leap on City Council

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Monday's swearing-in ceremony of new at-large West Des Moines City Council member Renee Hardman was groundbreaking.

Defeating incumbent Rick Messerschmidt, she became the first African American woman and second female city council member in West Des Moines history.

"It was a moment that I was most proud of and just took a moment to thank God for leading me on this journey," said Hardman.

A standing room only crowd recognized the milestone of triumph.  Hardman said, "All you can say is you are humbled by it. Your spirit is humbled by the extraordinary showing of support, and for that I am grateful."

Many eyes witnessed history, but it was Hardman's leap of faith from Chicago nearly 40 years ago that laid the foundation for the monumental moment.

"I came to Iowa in 1979, sight unseen to attend Drake University," said Hardman.

That same blind faith mentality is what impressed her most about the voters as she campaigned for their support.  She said, "I did learn that people didn't necessarily care whether I was a woman or an African American. They cared about what I brought to the table."

Now with a seat at that table, Hardman says her path may allow others to pull up a chair, as well.

"I want them to see that if you work hard and have the values necessary and you look people in the eye and say, 'I want to be your voice, I want to hear what is on your mind,' it can happen."

Two issues Hardman hopes to make an early impact on are citizen engagement and affordable housing in West Des Moines.

For full video of the swearing-in ceremony from the Communicator Newspaper, click here.