[Q&A] Marty Mauk, Ward 2 DSM City Council Candidate

Marty Mauk Wants To Work From The Inside Out

By Dick Murphy

Marty Mauk 2nd Ward City Council Candidate - Des Moines

Marty Mauk, Des Moines 2nd Ward City Council Candidate

For most of his adult life living in the Northeast neighborhood of Des Moines, Marty Mauk has worked from the Outside In. He has served on and led the Neighborhood Advisory Board, Northeast Neighbors, and Des Moines Neighbors just to name a few of his activities.

This owner of a small business is seeking the Ward 2 seat on the Des Moines City Council because he is ready to work from the inside serving people on the outside. He has believes he can help the city become more transparent and improve services.

His experience has taught him that the Council needs to make some tough decisions developing the next budget. “We have cut out the fat,” says Mauk. He has some ideas the city needs to address our budget dilemma.

On Thursday, October 28, Dick Murphy, Chair of the Endorsement committee for the Iowa Bystander, interviewed Mauk about his vision for Ward 2 and the City of Des Moines.

Learn more about what Mauk wants to and listen to the interview he conducted with UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT), here below. 



Publisher’s Note

By Jonathan Narcisse

Months ago I met with Marty Mauk at the Gateway Market and Linda Westergaard at Palmer’s Deli. I shared with both candidates the opportunity to send our publication releases, position papers, etc…

Mauk has sent a dozen or more items for publication. Westergaard has not sent a single item.

As the election neared Dick Murphy, former President of the Des Moines School Board and Chair of our endorsement committee contacted both candidates for Ward 2 about interviews.

Mauk obviously responded, Westergaard, despite saying she wanted to do an interview, never got back to Murphy.

Because we have added new media products and made major format changes in our other publications this fall, combined with the absence of major contested races in the major communities we serve – Des Moines where three of the four seats are virtually uncontested, Ankeny, Johnston, Urbandale and West Des Moines, we decided not to endorse this Municipal Election cycle. Instead we decided we would do interviews with the two candidates in the major contested race in the Greater Metropolitan community. Unfortunately only one responded.

While we are going to honor our commitment to not endorse Westergaard’s lack of responsiveness raises the question,

If she is inaccessible now to a local media serving thousands of her potential constituents how accessible will she be if elected – especially since contributors were able to access her such as the Realtors Association that contributed tens of thousands to her campaign.” 

Meanwhile Mauk and his campaign have been very responsive and have also been very aggressive in reaching out to our readers.

Just food for thought as you enter the voting booth or share with friends in Ward 2 how they might vote.


[Q&A] Bill Northey – Iowa Ag Secretary

 Ag Education is a priority of Sec. Northey. Here he is pictured with students of McCombs Middle School in Des Moines.

Ag Education is a priority of Sec. Northey. Here he is pictured with students of McCombs Middle School in Des Moines.

Air, water, food have always been one, two and three on the survival chart for humanity.

Today the average family enjoys comforts and technological marvels kings of old never could have imagined but at the end of the day mankind still has to eat.

Iowa is a giant in the agricultural world and at the center of the action is Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey, a Republican, who managed to win a very close race in 2006 amidst a Democratic tide in Iowa that even saw long term moderate Republican Jim Leach defeated.

Continue reading

[Q&A] Chuck Palmer – Iowa DHS Director

Jonathan Narcisse Interviews Chuck Palmer

Jonathan Narcisse Interviews Chuck Palmer

Meet Chuck Palmer: The Man In Charge Of Billions!

Charles (Chuck) Palmer has had a front row seat to the significant socio-economic changes our state has experienced the past few decades.

From 1989-1999 Palmer served as the Director for the Iowa Department of Human Services following his tenure as head of the state’s division of mental health and developmental disabilities.

After leaving state government Palmer took over ISED (Institute for Social and Economic Development), an urban based empowerment initiative based in Des Moines.

In that role he again witnessed the key issues impacting urban Iowa, the poor and disadvantaged populations in a way few Iowans have ever experienced.

Continue reading

[Q&A] Rob Denson – DMACC President

President Barack Obama participates in a photo line prior to a college access and affordability town hall at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 14, 2015.

President Barack Obama and Dr. Rob Denson in a photo line at the college access and affordability town hall at North High School in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 14, 2015.

Few Iowans grasp the importance of the Community College movement in Iowa. For years our state’s community colleges have been the path for dropouts to resume their education beginning with acquisition of a G.E.D.

Community colleges in Iowa provide relevant education for tens of thousands of High School students unable to get the caliber of academic instruction they need at their home schools.

Community colleges have also been on the frontline of providing vocational and technical education at a time when the demand for skilled workers is high, taxpayer investment in infrastructure is massive but available workers are scarce. A recent Iowa Workforce Development report indicated there is a need for 70,000 skilled workers in our state but they just don’t exist.

Rob Denson, once upon a time ago, lost a close legislative race in Florida after spending $250,000. As Garth Brooks once sang – thank God for unanswered prayers.

Instead of becoming just another politician Denson returned to school, became and educator and eventually ended up in Iowa where his impact has been profound and lasting; not just in our state but on the national stage, too.

On October 22, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) sat down with Dr. Denson to discuss the role community colleges have played in Iowa, DMACC’s unique status in the academic world and his vision going forward.


[Q&A] Lance Williams’ Wake Up Call

Lance Williams and Jonathan Narcisse

Lance Williams (l) discusses his Iowa journey with Jonathan Narcisse (r).

Lance Williams started young selling dope. Then one day he showed up at a local hospital with a gun to settle a dispute. It became his first encounter with the law.

Eventually he would go to prison for armed robbery and spend a significant portion of his young life behind bars. Then one day his daughter visited him and did not recognize him.

It was a much needed wakeup call and since that time Williams has not only walked the straight and narrow but he has also used his experiences to reach out to urban youth and young Black men so they don’t have to make the same mistakes he’s made.

On October 14, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) sat down with Mr. Williams and had a very candid conversation about his journey and the lessons learned.

[Q&A] Nola Aigner – Polk County Health Department

UIT: Monthly Chat With Polk County Health Department

Nola AignerNola Aigner is the Health Educator/Public Information Officer for the Polk County Health Department.
The Health Department is responsible for a wide range of local health concerns from hosting a clinic that tests for STDs to responding to an outbreak of ill teachers at a local hospital.
On October 16, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) sat down with her in the first of a series of monthly conversations. This month topics covered included Childhood Obesity, Flu Season and Diabetes. (And don’t forget to cough into your elbow!)

Commentary: A High Price to Pay

Latanya Haggerty

Latanya Haggerty whose family will receive an $18 Million payout from the City of Chicago.

For more than a year the national news has been dominated by images of Black men killed by White police officers. Like television soap operas the script is pretty standard,  just the characters change.

The opening scene begins with a death under suspicious circumstances.

Then the sides are chosen. There are those who immediately take the side of the police officer, or officers accused of murder, defending the shooting or death as justified. Continue reading

[Q&A] Iowa ACLU, Prizing Liberties And Maintaining Rights

Veronica Fowler

Veronica Fowler

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa was the third state affiliate of the national organization. It was founded in 1935 created to fight for a worker being crushed under the weight of corporate power.

Since those early days the organization has expanded its mission fighting for concerns ranging from the rights of the LGBTQ community to voting rights to justice. The tactics used range from litigation to lobbying for legislation to community education.

On Friday, October 9, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) sat down with Veronica Fowler, Communications Director for the ACLU of Iowa to discuss the agency’s priorities and impact.


[Q&A] Ted Boesen: CEO for Iowa’s Primary Care Association

Ted Boesen

Ted Boesen

Earlier this week Iowans in 99 counties walked as part of our state’s healthy initiative. That’s a start. Still, there are many health challenges that face the residents of our state and steps we need to take to address those challenges.

On Thursday, October 8, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) had a very candid and timely conversation Theodore (Ted) J. Boesen Jr., the  Chief Executive Officer  of  Iowa Primary Care Association about the health network, the impact of social factors on the health of Iowans and the challenges we face in truly creating a healthy state.



[Q&A] UIT Travels Back to the Future with Pastor Bobby Young

Pastor Bobby YoungBobby Young grew up on a plantation in Mississippi picking cotton and facing the type of racism most Black youth cannot comprehend. He also witnessed history first hand including the admission of James Meredith into the University of Mississippi 15 miles from his home.

He left the South and eventually built a million dollar business still operating to this day. His son operates it now while he focuses on addressing urban challenges and urban empowerment as Pastor of Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church and past president of the Black Ministerial Alliance of Des Moines.

On Friday, October 9, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT), in a two part interview, spoke with Pastor Young about his past, the present and his vision for the community he loves.

[Q&A] United Way’s Chief Community Impact Officer Shares “The Plan”

Elizabeth Buck

Elisabeth Buck

Once upon a time United Way of Central Iowa was the place organizations went to get their agenda funded. No more! Now, the United Way has a plan. And, agencies that seek funding must align their activities with the agenda of the agency.

On Thursday, October 8, 2015, Elisabeth Buck, Chief Community Impact Officer of the United Way of Central Iowa and former Director of Iowa Workforce Development, talks about the evolution of the agency. She also discusses in her two part interview two of the three areas she is responsible for – Education and Income.

[Q&A] Fallon’s Mission: To Extinguish The Fire That Is Our Climate Crisis

Ed Fallon took on a local political giant a generation ago to become an Iowa State Representative. He then fell short in his bids to be governor and a U.S. Congressman. But, his campaigns were not in vain with important and principled positions being advanced in each effort.

Now Fallon has shifted his emphasis to the “issue of our times”: The Climate Crisis. He asserts it is not just an ecological crisis but a moral one citing no less than Pope Francis’ recent call for climate change as support for his cause. To further make his point Fallon has walked across our state and across our nation. He will soon travel to Europe to join a walk there.

Ed Fallon

In this photo provided by the Iowa Progress, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon, left, listens to Nora Kischer-Browne outside Mears Cottage on the Grinnell University campus Friday, April 28, 2006, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Iowa Progress)

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com sat down with Ed to talk about why this is such an important issue and what can be done to make a difference.

[Q&A] Des Moines Police Chief Wingert

Des Moines Police Chief Wingert

Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert

Chief Dana Wingert didn’t grow up dreaming about being a police officer. He was a married construction worker whose wife filled out the application for him and told him he was going to become a cop.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) sat down with Chief Wingert to discuss his journey to becoming Des Moines’ top cop as well as his vision for the state’s largest police department.

[Q&A] Des Moines Playhouse: An Iowa Treasure

The year was 1919: Former President Theodore Roosevelt died in his sleep at the age of 60; the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect banning alcohol for recreational use in America; the White Sox throw the World Series, Babe Ruth is sold for $125,000 and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not debuts.

Oh, and the Des Moines Playhouse opens its first full season.

Lee-Ann Bakros and Nikki Syverson

Lee-Ann Bakros and Nikki Syverson

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) had the opportunity to sit down with Nikki Syverson, Development Director for The Playhouse and Lee Ann Bakros, Marketing & Public Relations Director/Group Sales Director for The Playhouse and discuss a myriad of topics from the organization’s upcoming Halloween Party to the upcoming season on the Mainstage and the Kate Goldman Children’s season.

Pictured L-R: Lee Ann Bakros & Nikki Syverson

[Q&A] A Pleasant Transformation: The 6th Avenue Corridor 

Breann Bye, Executive Director for 6th Avenue Corridor

Breann Bye, Executive Director for 6th Avenue Corridor

Not too long ago Des Moines’ 6th Avenue was known for its bars, drug activity, open prostitution, the Y-Not Grill and the place where you went to sell blood.

There is still work to be done, but 6th Avenue has undergone some major improvements. And this neighborhood has some very exciting projects on the way, including a new seafood market.

On Thursday, October 1, 2015, Breann Bye, Executive Director of the 6th Avenue Corridor, sat down with UrbanIowaToday.com (UIT) to discuss the progress that has been made and the exciting developments to come.

[Q&A] Mental Health Redesign in Iowa

Iowa Department of Human Services

Health and Human Service spending by state government dwarfs all other fiscal priorities, including education. Annual Medicaid spending in Iowa tops $3.5 billion annually with Iowa taxpayer contributions to the program coming in at well over $1 billion annually. Continue reading

Wolves at the Gate

Wolves at the Gate in Iowa

From the Occupy Movement to the Tea Party I have found Iowans are very sincere in their desire to fix broke governance. This also includes the self-named Socialist, Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians I’ve talked to. Continue reading

[Q&A] Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Dept Director


Less than two decades ago Brooklyn native Rick Kozin moved to Iowa to become a community organizer with the Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN). Today he serves as the Director of the Polk County Health Department.  Continue reading

2015 El Communicador DSM School Board Endorsements

By Al Perez

I had the wonderful privilege of spending two full days with very respected colleagues in our community. Our task was to interview and endorse candidates running for school board seats here in Des Moines and the metro. As the rookie to this endorsement panel, it certainly gave me an up close and personal perspective into each candidate running for a seat. Every candidate was given a rigorous and thorough questionnaire of 24 questions in advance. No aspect was left out of question. From personal vision to knowledge of budgets and issues such as Iowa Core. As a Latino and leader in the community, I had the humble task of putting questions that focus on the growing diverse cultures coming into our school system. I focused much of my questioning on the growing needs of the Latino population and what each candidate had in mind for meeting a large booming population. Continue reading

2015 Iowa Bystander School Board Candidate Endorsement Criteria

Ranking Values 1 through 5 for each Criteria

Vision. 1 2 3 4 5

Can articulate rationale for seeking the office and what needs to be accomplished.

Commitment. 1 2 3 4 5

Demonstrates experiential passion for our kids, schools, and community.

Knowledge. 1 2 3 4 5

Displays an understanding of educational relationships between Federal, State, and local governments. Shows a familiarity with finances. Understands Issues that impact student learning.

Role of a School Board and Board members. 1 2 3 4 5

Knows governing from micro-managing. Understands the relationships with superintendent, community, staff, and students and how the district’s credibility is impacted.