City Council Candidate Survey – Renovation and Preservation

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CC license, attribution: Des Moines Rehabbers Club asked Mayoral and City Council candidates for a few moments of time to answer a brief four question survey regarding local historic preservation topics. The questionnaire was posted online and three of seven candidates responded.  Responses were received from Marty Mauk (Ward 2 candidate), Chris Coleman (At Large candidate, incumbent), and Loren Esse (At Large candidate).  The DSMRC thanks these candidates for the time they took to let us know their views on historic preservation and renovation in Des Moines.

Frank Cownie (Mayoral candidate, incumbent), Anthony Taylor (Mayoral candidate), Linda Westergaard (Ward 2 candidate), and Joe Gatto (Ward 4 candidate) did not fill out questionnaire responses.

As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club does not endorse individual candidates. The purpose of this questionnaire is to educate our members on the candidates’ positions as they relate to these important issues.

Question 1: What do you see as the roles of the Des Moines City Council, Mayor, City Government administration/boards, and non-government entities in relation to historic preservation throughout the City?

Chris Coleman – To develop policies, fairly implement them, and champion the history of Des Moines.

Loren Esse – The top city officials are elected by voters to provide oversight regarding all city functions. Balanced oversight is best derived from broad-based insight that includes individual creativity, education and management. Historic preservation & renovation take into consideration many dynamic elements that tend to acknowledge the past and enrich the future.

Marty Mauk – I would see the role of all the groups to be working together toward a common strategy of historic preservation whenever feasible.

Question 2: How important are each of the following preservation issues to you as a Des Moines City Council member:

Item Extremely Important Important Moderately Important Not Important
Protection of historic homes and buildings  Coleman, Esse  Mauk
Documenting historic resources lost through neglect and demolition  Coleman, Esse  Mauk
Enforcing existing local historic district ordinances  Coleman, Esse, Mauk
Establishing Historic Districts as a tool for neighborhood revitalization  Esse, Mauk  Coleman
Reducing landfill waste by prioritizing renovation and salvage over demolition  Coleman, Esse, Mauk
Financial incentives for maintaining and rehabilitating historic buildings  Coleman, Esse, Mauk
Comprehensive inventory of historic and potentially historic buildings and districts  Coleman, Esse  Mauk
Reducing landfill waste by prioritizing renovation and salvage over demolition  Coleman, Esse, Mauk

Question 3: As a City Council member or Mayor, how would you address the most important issue above?

Chris Coleman – Continuing to provide financial incentives for historic renovations. In fact I have proposed doubling the tax abatement city-wide for such renovations. This will be the strongest advancement of city policies regarding preservation and rehab of historical properties in a generation.

Loren Esse – Prioritizing renovation/salvage over demolition more accurately acknowledges any possible individual intention of strengthening aesthetics and property tax value.

Marty Mauk – Recycle and Rehab with the bonus of financial incentives.

Question 4: If you could have been a decision maker on the City Council regarding a preservation issue in the past, which issue would it be and what would have been your position?

Chris Coleman – I was able to use my position on the city council to help establish the River Bend Local Historic District. I was proud to help ignite reinvestment in historic structures in this great neighborhood.

Loren Esse – Establishing a Local Historic District in the River Bend neighborhood would provide a measure of dynamic stability that might generally strengthen property value and ownership.

Marty Mauk – Given the housing stock in the River Bend area and the need neighborhood revitalization I probably would have put my “eggs in that basket”