City Council candidates finish last forum


Council members speak at the Ames City Council meeting.

Shannon Mccarty

Ames City Council candidates answered questions on a variety of issues for the final time Thursday night before the big election day. 

Thursday night’s forum was the last before the Nov. 3 elections and was cohosted by the Ames Progressive Alliance and Ames Public Library.

The sixth City Council forum included all five candidates: Tim Gartin, incumbent running unopposed for the 2nd Ward; Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen, who is running against Matthew Converse for the at-large seat; and Dan DeGeest, who is running against incumbent Chris Nelson for the 4th Ward.

Questions were asked by representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Central Iowa, the Ames Bicycle Coalition, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy Affordable Housing Team, Ames Community Solar Initiative, The Green Umbrella, Ames Adult Education & Literacy Program and the Ames Progressive Alliance.

Kearra Chester and Anneke Mundel from the Ames Adult Education & Literacy Program asked if the candidates would be in favor of implementing programs to combat poverty such as a higher local minimum wage or the offering of microloans to those wanting to start a business.

“I believe if [the minimum wage] is increased, it will impact everyone positively,” DeGeest said.

Nelson said looking at the minimum wage is something worthwhile and also finds the micro-loans idea to be interesting.

“I don’t have an opinion on [the ideas] frankly,” Gartin said.

Gartin said he is more concerned about his goal of getting people from the community involved in giving back to help those who are less fortunate.

Beatty-Hansen said she would be interested in both ideas.

“I think the city will pay for [poverty] no matter what we do,” Beatty-Hansen said. “If we have people who aren’t earning living wages, that then falls more on the social services.”

Converse said he would have great interest in the idea of microloans.

“If I could’ve had access to something like that I would’ve loved it,” Converse said.

Jamet Colton from the Ames Progressive Alliance asked candidates about a current city code that does not allow more than three unrelated single individuals to live in the same single-family home in low-density neighborhoods. Colton asked if candidates would support state legislature’s efforts to repeal this law.

“I think we would have to have a very deliberate conversation with neighborhood groups,” Nelson said.

Gartin agreed, noting how the change could impact the community.

“I think we need to be a little bit cautious about rushing in to make change that so many people worked very hard to put in place,” Gartin said. “They were concerned about the impact and quality of life in their neighborhoods.”

Beatty-Hansen said stability is an important thing in a neighborhood, which she thinks was the intended purpose of the specific code. She said taking a good look at possible repercussions of getting rid of the code would be a necessary step.

“I support the code as it is in place,” Converse said.

An audience member asked a question about the current state of the police force in the country. She said that, as a woman of color and a mother of a son of color, she was worried about his safety as well as her own.

Beatty-Hansen said a good place to start would be to have police officers collect data based on race during traffic stops.

“We need to know if we have issues in Ames. I hope we don’t,” Beatty-Hanson said.

Converse agreed with Beatty-Hansen’s idea of collecting data and said having a respectful dialogue with everyone in the community is important.

“I’ve never seen issues of race from my children,” DeGeest said. “I think this is an issue for us as adults that we need to work on.”

DeGeest said having a conversation about body cameras on police officers is a conversation worth having.

“The police department is very well trained,” Nelson said. “They really treat the community really well.” 

Nelson said if anyone has been mistreated by Ames Police, they should let city leaders know.

Gartin said it is painful to see police officers abusing their power, and it is something to continue to watch for. He said Ames currently does not have an issue within the police department. 

City Council candidates agreed on many issues, such as increasing the city’s use of solar energy, providing more mental health services and continuing to develop transportation systems.. 

Election day for all City Council members is Nov. 3.