Des Moines City Council Ditches Runoff Elections; Approves Skywalk Cameras

DES MOINES - The Des Moines City Council has voted to do away with runoff elections and to replace them with a single election, winner-take-all model.

The change takes effect next year. City council members and the mayor will be on the general election ballot and whomever receives the most votes is the winner, regardless of whether they have more than fifty percent of the vote.

The vote was unanimous. Council members say the change will save the city money.

Before Monday's change, the two candidates with the most votes for an office went to a runoff election held a month later if neither of them received more than 50 percent.

Des Moines employed runoff elections in 2009 after previously holding primary elections, where the number of candidates were reduced before the general election in November.

Last November, a close race between incumbent Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and challenger Jack Hatch led to a highly contentious runoff election that council members say ended with the same result, a narrow win by Cownie.

Also Monday, the city council approved a $25,000 grant for the installation of security cameras in the city's sky-walk system.

The project will receive an additional $25,000 from Polk County and $125,000 from Operation Downtown.

It includes the installation of five security pods that'll each have four cameras, a 2-way speaker, two TV monitors, and two heat detection sensors.

These pods will convey data and images through fiber-optic lines back to a server under the control of the Skywalk Association Board.

The Skywalk Association will take care of the ongoing costs of $700 a month.

The city council's action comes after a couple was assaulted by a group of juveniles in the skywalk in October.

Downtown Des Moines

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