Chelsea Chism-Vargas is the Candidate Ward 4 Has Been Waiting For
By: Brian McLain
I used to live in Ward 4 in a part of the city south of the viaduct on E 30th Street called The Bottoms back when Archie Brooks was “representing” that district. It was along a road that was never cared for except for the few times they would send a truck out to patch a pothole or two. When the city didn’t get the local option sales tax increase they wanted (yes, the same one), they promptly shut down a number of city services to my neighborhood, including street lights. That’s the way it had always been. Ward 4 had always been expendable to the city in that way.
I left that neighborhood 20 years ago, but I still have family and friends that live in that area. It hurts my heart that it still either being gentrified or neglected. Whether through Brooks or Gatto nothing had really changed. The city infrastructure is still woefully neglected. SE 14th continues to be one of the most dangerous streets in the state. Ward 4 has the least amount of walkable areas with the fewest number of sidewalks in the city.
The representation has also not seemed to change either. Archie Brooks was an egotistical, self-serving corporate tool (and I mean that in both definitions of the word) who used his position on the Council to exploit the city and Ward 4 for their own gain. Gatto seems to be another extension of Brooks’ legacy. He has referred to taco truck operators as “unsightly transient merchants“, attempted to use city funds to his remodel his restaurant, Baratta’s, and used his position to get out of a well-deserved speeding ticket. Ward 4 deserves so much better than this.
Enter the candidate that Ward 4 deserves, Chelsea Chism-Vargas. A life long Southside “Daughter of Des Moines” and “raised by a family of immigrants and union members” who, unlike Gatto, still lives in the part of the city that she is running to represent. She has long been an advocate for her community and worked for organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood and is running a campaign based on people power, bringing the community together, and social justice. Her fight has brought on some powerful endorsements as well, catching the attention of presidential candidates like Julian Castro and more recently Bernie Sanders, both of whom directed resources (Castro volunteered himself as well) to get the word out about Chism-Vargas.
As a former resident of the Southside Bottoms, and after so many years of neglect and gentrification, I am so very happy for my old neighborhood that they finally have a candidate that will work for them. That won’t exploit their neighborhood or ignore it. A candidate that will advocate for their community and be a real leader and representative. Chelsea Chism-Vargas is the candidate that Southeast Des Moines has been waiting for! Vote for Chelsea Chism-Vargas on November 5th!