Saffron Restaurants reservation Meet the candidates for the Polk County Board of Supervisors in Urbandale

Meet the candidates for the Polk County Board of Supervisors in Urbandale

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Three candidates are vying to replace longtime Polk County Supervisor Robert Brownell, who will leave his District 2 seat at the end of the year.

Republicans Jill Altringer and Bob Start will represent the district on the Polk County Board of Supervisors during the June primary, which includes Johnston, Urbandale, Grimes, Polk City, Alleman, Elkhart, Mitchellville, Bondurant and part of Sheldahl. The winner will face Democrat John Forbes in November.

Brownell, who is serving his sixth term, announced his retirement in March 2023 after his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

To help voters, the Des Moines Register has sent questions to all federal, legislative and local candidates from the Des Moines area running for political office this year. Their answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The primaries are scheduled for June 4, ahead of the November 5 general election.

More: Voting has begun for the June 4 Iowa caucuses. Here’s what you need to know:

Who is Jill Altringer?

Age: 49

Party: Republican

Grown up: Stormmeer

Current residence: Grimes

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry from the University of Iowa; Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law; passed the Iowa bar in 2001 and the federal patent bar in 2002

Occupation: Lawyer and small business owner

Political experience and social activities: Municipal Council, 2006-2021; Polk County Conservation Board, 2017-2024, chair 2023-24; Grimes Leadership Academy Board 2023-2024; High School Mock Trial Coach 2016-2024; Metro Advisory Council (MAC) and MAC Executive Committee; Economic Development Committee; Water and Wastewater Committee; Library Board; Parks and Recreation Board; Fire brigade management; Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO); Bravo; Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) and DART Strategic Planning Committee; Iowa Women in Agriculture Council; Grimes Kiwanis Board; 2011 “Forty under 40” award, Des Moines Business Record

Who is Bob Start?

Age: 67

Party: Republican

Grown up: Omaha, Nebraska

Current residence: Granger

Education: I went to Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, and then to Hastings College of Nebraska.

Occupation: I am the owner/CEO of American Moving.

Political experience and social activities: I have held multiple leadership and board positions at Rotary Club and at my church, and have been the musical director of bands and jazz groups since sixth grade.

Who is John Forbes?

Age: 67

Party: Democrat

Grown up: Eagle Forest

Current residence: Urbandale

Education: Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, Drake University, 1980

Occupation: Pharmacist

Political experience and social activities: State Representative 2013-present, Urbandale City Council 2005-2012, Urbandale Library Foundation Board Member 1995-present, Central Iowa Honor Flight Coordinator 2009-2024, Past President of Polk County and Iowa Pharmacy Associations

What is the most important issue facing Polk County and how would you address it during your time in office?

Altringer: Polk County residents are facing economic uncertainty. As Supervisor, I will protect Polk County taxpayers through careful budget oversight, find ways to reduce costs and waste while maintaining critical services, and ensure responsible spending. In doing so, I am committed to discussing financial issues openly, listening to residents and always putting taxpayers first. My ultimate goal is to reduce property taxes and focus on accountability and transparency to ensure Polk County families keep more of their hard-earned money.

Get started: I believe the most important issues facing Polk County involve taxes and economic development. We must work to help our hard-working residents keep more of their hard-earned money, giving people more opportunities to build thriving small businesses.

Forbes: I am committed to ensuring the province continues to care for our most vulnerable residents and ensures we continue to address mental health, homelessness and food insecurity. Instead of sending people to prison because of mental health crises, we should continue to focus on programs that provide help to these individuals. We also need to address homelessness in the province and facilitate finding housing for those in need. Food insecurity is a problem across the country and we must work with local food banks to ensure that no person or child in our province goes hungry.

What new programs or initiatives would you advocate for under your leadership?

Altringer: One initiative I would advocate for is transforming senior meal locations into local hubs for mobile health and legal services. This involves collaboration with healthcare and legal experts at established locations to improve accessibility for seniors. Offering health checks, screenings and access to telemedicine would improve healthcare accessibility for our seniors. Adding legal clinics for estate planning and benefits advice would eliminate simple legal concerns. Collaboration with community groups and the use of technology to share information would improve services to meet the needs of our seniors while increasing community well-being.

Get started: Polk County is an extremely diverse place, both demographically and geographically. One of the issues I hear about the most is transparency, and one of the biggest issues is having the board meet in one place and during business hours. I would strongly advocate moving the meetings to an evening, as many counties have done, so that more residents can attend. I will also support a policy to move the meeting to other towns/cities in our province so that the board can listen to all our residents.

Forbes: I want to ensure Polk County leads in renewable energy, tackles climate change and ensures clean water for our residents. We must move away from our dependence on fossil fuels and encourage the use of alternative energy. I will work to explore expanding wind and solar energy programs for Polk County residents and the need to reduce and eliminate nitrates and pesticides in our drinking water.

How would you manage rising personal costs to taxpayers while maintaining a provincial budget that provides essential services to residents?

Altringer: Managing rising costs while maintaining essential services requires prioritizing community needs, making operations more efficient, and identifying cost savings through expanding shared regional services and better leveraging technology. My priority is to focus on reducing budget waste while exploring alternative sources of revenue such as public-private partnerships or grants to diversify funding streams. Furthermore, open communication is key to transparent budget discussions and will lead to better understanding and support from residents; This, coupled with regular review of budget priorities and expenditures, ensures the province is responsive to the changing needs and economic conditions of the community.

Get started: If we allow our residents to keep more of their money by lowering skyrocketing property taxes, then I am confident that the economic development/stimulus we will see from that will make up for the lost revenue, especially if we reduce the levy gradually .

Forbes: I voted in the Iowa Legislature to reduce property taxes for all Iowans and will continue to address property tax increases at the county level. I want to keep property taxes as low as possible so as not to push Polk County’s hard-working homeowners, many of whom are seniors, out of their homes. The bonds paying off the Wells Fargo Arena, built more than two decades ago, expire in one to two years, freeing up millions of dollars that could be used to lower property taxes. We must ensure that we continue to provide superior services such as public safety, public health and the maintenance of our state roads and facilities for our citizens.

What is your approach to balancing the needs and interests of residents in growing cities and small towns?

Altringer: Balancing needs between urban and rural areas is complicated and requires a multifaceted approach. We must prioritize needs, allocate resources, develop infrastructure, and provide services equitably to communities across the country. This can be done through joint planning with urban and rural stakeholders to ensure decisions take different perspectives and needs into account. Innovative policies tailored to the challenges of each area should be evaluated while promoting the overall growth of the community. Investments in infrastructure that connect urban and rural areas promote economic opportunities and social cohesion. With a comprehensive approach, we can effectively manage growth, reduce inequalities and cultivate thriving communities across landscapes.

Get started: District 2 is geographically very diverse. It is Polk County’s most rural county, but there are thriving suburban areas as well. One of the things I would immediately implement once elected is to establish regular town halls on a rotation of each city/town in the district. I want to be a voice in governance for our entire district, from Urbandale to Elkhart and Bondurant. My No. 1 priority will be to get into these communities and hear the specific needs of all our residents.

Forbes: Having grown up in a small town in north central Iowa, I understand the needs of both small towns and growing cities. Much of District 2 is located in rural areas of our province. My work in the Legislature over the past twelve years demonstrates my commitment to rural Iowa and their needs. It is critical to ensure that our smaller communities have modern water treatment facilities, adequate energy needs and a clean source of drinking water, which is essential for the continued growth of these smaller, but growing cities.

Virginia Barreda is a Des Moines city government reporter for the Register. She can be reached via [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.