Everyone Get On The Ballot – Lessons For Iowa From Virginia Sweep

Democrats in Iowa are still buzzing about the good news – finally, good news – out of Virginia and beyond from Tuesday night’s elections. Maybe, just maybe, 2018 will be the sort of wave year for Democrats we’re hoping for in this red-trending state. Or, at the very least, it won’t be yet another blowout loss kind of cycle. And it reinforces my advice from immediately after Donald Trump’s election one year ago: if you’re a Democrat who’s ever thought about running for office, 2018 is the year. Because, either one of two things are going to happen: it’s a […]

Progressives Pick Up Important Local Seats In Iowa’s Municipal Races

Iowans went to the polls yesterday in municipal races for city council and mayoral seats around the state, the second big election date since the 2016 election. Enthusiasm for local campaigns have been up in Democratic circles since Donald Trump’s elections, and many races that often only see one or two candidates were packed with contenders. Democrats and progressive activists saw a number of key victories in city council races across Iowa, building upon the good night for the party with the Virginia sweep. Iowa’s municipal elections are technically nonpartisan, but you typically know who is from which party. Here’s […]

Windsor Heights Council Candidate’s Past, Social Media Posts Cause Concern

The municipal races for city council and mayor are fast approaching this Tuesday, with voters in Windsor Heights seeing a crowded field of candidates running. Nine people are running for the three at-large council seats. One in particular has been drawing criticism online for his past posts on social media, as well as a recent OWI in the city he hopes to represent: Sean Murphy. Many people forwarded on to Starting Line screenshots of candidate Sean Murphy’s past comments on Facebook and Instagram. A baseball and tennis coach at Dowling Catholic High School, Murphy has posted a number of questionable […]

More Political Ads Like This, Please

Iowans won’t be seeing too many TV ads for Novembers’s municipal races, most of which are relatively low-profile affairs where not a whole lot of money spent. But one of the few they will watch is really quite good and a “refreshing” change of pace from the typical campaign ads we’ve come to expect. Josh Mandelbaum is up on television in the Des Moines media market with a 30-second ad entitled “Refreshing” two and a half weeks out from the city council election. It highlights his work as an environmental attorney on the issue of clean drinking water in a […]

Fear Fails Again In Fairfield

One more chapter came to a close in Fairfield, Iowa’s long-running controversy over transgender bathrooms, this one perhaps the last. A large number of conservative candidates running for the Fairfield School Board in response to the district following state and national policy on transgender bathroom use were routed on Tuesday night. Four candidates who defended the town’s LGBTQ community and the policy won the four at-large seats, aided by unprecedented voter turnout for the local race. Debate over the issue has roiled the Southeast Iowa town of 10,200 people since early last year. A May 2016 bullying incident where a […]

Did DMACC Get Too Involved In Trustee Board Race?

What’s the proper role for a school administration in public elections for their governing board, whether it be for a community college board of trustees or a school board? For publicly funded institutions, the law is pretty clear: neutrality. You wouldn’t think to see the superintendent of the Des Moines Public Schools out campaigning for specific candidates to sit on the board that oversees him. But supporters of two candidates who are challenging incumbent DMACC trustee board members think the community college went too far this year in indicating their preference. It’s the latest flash point in the ongoing fallout […]

Kyrstin Delagardelle Shelley Pushes For More Inclusive DSM Schools In Campaign

The elections for school board in Iowa are fast approaching, the first big round of races that are seeing new leaders step up in the wake of the 2016 outcome. One candidate that’s drawing a lot of attention in Central Iowa is Kyrstin Delagardelle Shelley, who was recently endorsed by the Des Moines Education Association and a host of other labor unions. She’s one of three contenders on the September 12 ballot competing for two at-large Des Moines school board seats. A teacher/librarian at Northview Middle School in Ankeny, this is Shelley’s first bid for public office. The election results […]

Candidate Updates: Kiernan In, Carberry & Blake Out, Glasson Maybe

While the Donald Trump presidency disintegrates before the nation’s eyes in non-stop breaking news stories, local politics marches on in Iowa. Let’s do a quick round-up of recent news. Des Moines City Council The race for Des Moines City Council Ward 3 originally promised to be a closely-watched battle between longtime Republican incumbent Christine Hensley and Democratic environmental attorney Josh Mandelbaum. Hensley decided to retire from the seat instead a few weeks ago, and now the matchup will be between two well-known Des Moines Democrats (for now, anyway). Former IDP Chair Michael Kiernan officially entered the race yesterday, focusing his […]

Polk County Legislators Line Up Behind Josh Mandelbaum

Environmental attorney Josh Mandelbaum’s path to winning a Des Moines City Council seat got easier last month when Christine Hensley announced she was retiring. However, there’s now chatter about other potential candidates considering a run in the heavily-Democratic ward. Another Republican (or independent) may launch a bid, but it’s highly unlikely any would have the type of deep ties Hensley did that allowed her to win such a district. The eventual race may resemble a Democratic primary more than anything else. Mandelbaum already has a significant head start, especially after his $110,000 fundraising haul in his campaign’s first three weeks. He […]

Josh Mandelbaum Scares Christine Hensley Into Retirement

In news that shocked the Des Moines political world, longtime City Councilwoman Christine Hensley announced she would not seek reelection in 2017. The Republican representing a deeply-Democratic seat was already facing what likely would have been her toughest race yet in her 24-year career on the council. Environmental attorney Josh Mandelbaum kicked off his candidacy last month and had already put together an impressive campaign. He had planned to roll out new fundraising numbers and endorsements tomorrow to demonstrate continuing momentum. [Update] Mandelbaum’s campaign informs Starting Line that Mandelbaum has raised over $110,000 in the three weeks he’s been a candidate. They’ve recruited […]