Connie Boesen, The new Mayor of Des Moines


On November 7, 2023, the city of Des Moines went to the polls and elected their first new mayor in 20 years, and first female mayor, Connie Boesen. Boesen grew up on the East side, a proud graduate of East High School in 1969. Her mark of public service boils down to her service to the local community here in the East side of Des Moines, being a guiding example of the “For the service of humanity,” motto that she is proud to come from. Some of her more notable positions have come from being president of East High School’s PTA, to being a school board member, to then an elected member of city council. That was a general overview of what Boesen has done for the city so far, so with a new era of leadership for this city underway this January when she is eventually inaugurated, we were able to ask Boesen a few questions about her background and overall vison for the city of Des Moines. The following is a paraphrased transcript of an interview with the Mayor-Elect.  
Congratulations on your recent election to be the next mayor of Des Moines! Looking back on it, why did you decide to run for mayor in the first place? I just believed that I offered the experience, and I had a track record of getting things done. I knew the community and all aspects of the city. My experience from school board to city council was an asset.  
Can you share some insights into your time at Des Moines East High School in 1969 and onwards with the Alumni Foundation on how those experiences may have influenced your path to becoming the mayor of Des Moines? Involved in activities (cheerleading). President of East PTA when my daughters went to East, served on the local option sales tax for schools committee, school board, library board, park board. “The motto of East, ‘for the service of humanity’ has guided me throughout my life, I’m always asking how I can better serve my community.”  
What were the key priorities of your campaign, and how do you plan to address the issues you highlighted, championing economic development, and revitalizing neighborhoods? Create a safer Des Moines, expand mental health crisis team, giving the tools to our police that they need, get businesses in the city, revitalize neighborhoods, taking care of Des Moines citizens and making sure they’re able to succeed. We’re creating a sobering center with Polk County, expanding homeless services. Refurbish housing, opening up small businesses and making things easy for them, make sure we don’t have empty lots, making sure buildings aren’t in disrepair. In short, make communities people want to live in. Diversity of types of housing.  
How do you envision Des Moines evolving under your leadership, and what specific goals do you hope to achieve during your tenure as mayor? Vibrant downtown, office buildings repurposed or putting new businesses in, getting more on the tax roll, making sure all property is valuable. More job opportunities, more tax dollars, more local businesses make a better Des Moines. 
Given the endorsement from the outgoing mayor, Frank Cownie, and other City Council members, how do you plan to build on the previous administration’s successes while bringing your own vision to the forefront? They’re endorsing me because I want to continue the growth we’ve been having.  
Considering your focus on community needs, what immediate steps do you plan to take to address the concerns of Des Moines residents? Listening sessions, go out to the community and meet with various groups, ask about concerns. Listen to and inform the community.  
With the special election to fill your at-large City Council seat in March, what qualities do you hope to see in your successor, and how do you envision a smooth transition of representation for your constituents? We don’t know when the special election is, still being worked out. Understands the city and cares for it, willing to do necessary work to improve. Wanting to help move the city forward, understand the role of council. Oversee, not manage.  
During your campaign, what feedback or concerns did you hear from the residents of Des Moines, and how do you plan to incorporate their voices into your decision-making as mayor? People were positive about what was going on. They were concerned about safety and the city has been working toward more police involvement where needed. People were upset about vouchers, so were going to work closer with DMPS and the school board. Gave $4 million to open six new daycare programs. Bridge a stronger relationship with the community. People want to see revitalization, better roads, sidewalks, and much of that is already in motion  
Your opponent, Councilperson Josh (Mandelbaum), focused on protecting abortion access in the city. How do you plan to balance addressing city-specific issues with engaging in broader political discussions that may impact Des Moines? Fine line between what we can do as a city. As far as a city goes, we cant change that law, we have to be realistic on what we can do. We have to know the role of the city and the role of legislation.  
As the first woman mayor, do you see your gender influencing your approach to leadership or your priorities for the city, how does it feel to make history this way? I have always led by listening and finding solutions, work with people, understand issues, knowing I don’t have all the answers. Being the first woman will open the door for young women and girls and make them feel more powerful in the world. It’s party over people nowadays and I think we need to go back and recognize that people are ultimately more important. Serve the people before the party.  
In your opinion, what are the unique strengths and challenges that Des Moines faces, and how do you plan to leverage your strengths to overcome challenges during your tenure as mayor? Largest city, diverse population, opportunity, housing stock, VARIETY, cultural and social amenities. Keep building amenities, make the city work for the community. Want to make a city that people are proud of.  
Looking beyond Des Moines, how do you see the city contributing to the broader regional or national conversation on issues such as economic development, public safety, or community revitalization? I think so. The tactics we’re implementing. I’m going to reach out to other mayors, collaborate, work with supervisors, talk with state officials. If Des Moines is successful, it helps embolden the whole state. Find our strengths, use good ideas, share with smaller communities. Dialogue with state and other communities moves everybody forward.  
With your inauguration approaching in January, what initial actions or projects do you plan to prioritize in your first days as mayor? Economic development, help small businesses open faster with less government involvement. Meeting with communities and developers. Don’t lower standards but make it easier to get through processes. Streamline. “We need to be as efficient for them as we can possibly be.”  
From a recent interview you did with the Des Moines Register, it seems like you’re really going to push for more community involvement in politics as mayor. Do you have any plans to specifically get young people in the area to be more politically active? And, if so, what are they? I want a variety of people on our boards, we need more community engagement. We need more young people to get involved in their neighborhood.  
Anything else you would like to add? “Be proud of your school, get involved, remember your motto, be proud you’re a Scarlet.” 

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