Hello, my name is Luisa Bangs,
I have lived in Des Moines for 23 years and retired last year from the Port of Seattle after 33 ½ years as a Senior Maintenance Manager.
I was responsible for an $18+ million dollar operating budget, $5-$10 million in capital budgets, and managed a team of 100+ employees.
After living in Des Moines for over a decade, I wondered if Des Moines would progress at all or stay stagnant. When I didn't see the progression that I'd hoped for, I decided to get involved! It was then that I joined the Des Moines Art Commission. After serving DMAC for a few years, including holding the chair position, I was ready for even more responsibility. I and one other candidate applied to fill a single open seat on the city council. I would learn very soon that it was open for a reason. After consideration by the council, I was appointed to Position #2 on City Council in 2015.
I quickly found out that the city was in a near-bankruptcy situation and at-risk of being absorbed by another city after a long legal battle with the airport and a series of poor financial decisions. The term that I took over had less than a year left on it and I had a tough decision to make. Jump off what seemed like a sinking ship, or stay on and try my hardest to save it. I chose to stay and do my part to revive Des Moines. After running a campaign, I was successfully re-elected in 2016.
Since then, with the help of my fellow councilmembers, and city staff we were able to make a series of smart, but tough decisions that have resulted in financial solvency for Des Moines. We went from a $2.5 million deficit to having a contingency that would enable us to operate for almost a year in the event of a financial crisis. We've hired a new city manager as well as a new chief of police, and for the first time in years, the police department is fully staffed and funded.
I currently hold Position #2 and I am running for re-election in 2019 because I want to continue the successes that the city has accomplished and I want to work on those things that are currently a challenge. I am uniquely qualified and I have the necessary experience and skill set to continue to help this city move forward. More importantly, I want us all to move forward TOGETHER!
In 2016 we made some tough decisions that enabled us to avoid bankruptcy and maintain an appropriate reserve fund. Des Moines received a significant bond rating upgrade resulting in a savings of over $500,000 after we refinanced our 2008 bonds.
Municipal bonds are a way for a city to borrow money for major projects. In 2008 we had a horrible credit rating. A bad credit rating meant higher interest rates on the bonds we took out. We have since had our Moody's credit rating increased by three steps, which allowed us to refinance those bonds and save over $500,000 in interest charges.
In 2016 we created a 309 Capital Fund. A separate fund from the City’s operating budget where we hold one-time revenue from one time sources such as construction. Our city no longer relies on construction for operating revenue or to pay salaries. By only relying on sustainable revenue sources, we were able to balance the budget, as well as grow and maintain a healthy reserve fund. The city could continue normal operations for almost a year in the event of a financial crisis.
By first stabilizing our local economy, it enabled us to properly fund programs and departments like the police, as well as human services. It has also given us the opportunity to focus on the development of infrastructure and small business.
Safety and Emergency Planning
I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Public Safety and Emergency Planning Committee for the city, and I sit on the Police Advisory Board
We were able to hire a new Police Chief, and for the first time in years, our Police Department is fully staffed and fully funded. We now have a South Des Moines Police Department Substation at Redondo Square on 272nd and Pacific HWY and police have access to the MaST Center. We have enhanced police patrols, staffed a dedicated traffic control officer, and implemented speed controls throughout the city.
The safety of Des Moines residents is our top priority and we've done everything to prove that to residents with actions to back up our words.
We have supported small businesses in the city and development is happening!
A new restaurant has gone up, a dive shop, The Quarterdeck at the Marina, and theatre renovation renovations are happening. They are currently undergrounding utilities in the alley.
We oversaw the completion of the Des Moines Business Park and it is 100% occupied.
We have increased affordable housing and apartments for citizens over 55. We have helped increase funding from $50,000 to $100,000 for human services and have plans to increase by double again to $200,000. This money goes towards funding programs for our disadvantaged residents and youth.
Due to our financial solvency, we were able to secure funding to repair the bulkhead at the Des Moines Marina. We've been able to repair roads for the first time in years, and are currently working on connecting the Marina to the downtown area via stairway.
We are actively working with the Port of Seattle, FAA, and Seatac Airport to mitigate environmental and noise impacts on our city.
Our Concerts in the Park and Farmers Market have had record attendance and given diversity to the city like never before.
We also have increased clean-ups for graffiti and garbage by city departments to keep neighborhoods from becoming undesirable.