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Cownie Wins Fifth Term As Des Moines Mayor

Frank Cownie thanks supporters after winning a record fifth term as mayor of Des Moines.
Grant Gerlock
Frank Cownie thanks supporters after winning a record fifth term as mayor of Des Moines.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie has narrowly won reelection after defeating former state Sen. Jack Hatch in Tuesday’s runoff election. Unofficial results show Cownie received 51 percent of the vote and won by only 289 votes over Hatch.

By winning a fifth term, Cownie extends his tenure as the longest-serving mayor of Iowa’s largest city.

The campaign grew contentious over recent weeks after both candidates aired attack ads. Cownie said, moving forward, he wants to hear from residents from across the city.

“Those people that are feeling left out, I think it’s important that they step up, that they get included,” Cownie said. “Let’s work together and make sure Des Moines becomes what we want it to be for the next 50 to 100 years for our kids and our grandkids.”

In his next term, Cownie said he’d like to focus on renewing neighborhoods. “Working on sidewalks, working on parks, working on things they care about that gives them a better quality of life,” Cownie said.

In the runoff race, Cownie leaned on support from traditional political allies such as the Des Moines firefighters’ union while Hatch assembled a coalition of activist organizations and minority groups. In his concession speech, Hatch told supporters his proposals to give the city a larger role in improving water quality and to address neighborhood infrastructure influenced the campaign.

“We pulled so close. We set the agenda. Our city needs your continued support,” Hatch said. “I’ll take the loss, but you need to know that our job’s not over with.”

Turnout dropped between the two mayoral elections, from 24,816 in the November general election to 20,389 in the December runoff. That's about 14.5 percent of registered voters in the city.

The Des Moines mayor is a part-time position serving as a member of the city council and working with a full-time city manager.

IPR's Katarina Sostaric contributed to this report.

Grant Gerlock is a reporter covering Des Moines and central Iowa
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter