WEST DES MOINES — West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer today announced his campaign for re-election, pledging to continue to encourage a smart-growth strategy and a city budget that focuses on important quality-of-life issues such as recreation, public safety, transportation and the environment.
“I’ve been honored to work for West Des Moines’ citizens and businesses as mayor and lead the city through its greatest period of growth and jobs creation in its history and provide consistent, reliable leadership when the economy was down,” Gaer said. “I’d like to continue to lead West Des Moines forward for another four years to see that we continue to provide the quality services that our residents want, need and deserve.”
Gaer, a fourth-generation West Des Moines resident, noted that the most recent citizen survey conducted late last year scored West Des Moines above the national average in all 49 strategic areas measured and ranked the city number one in 21 of those categories.
“That survey shows that 96 percent of residents are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of life in West Des Moines. That’s something I’m very proud of, but also something that I want to work hard to maintain and even improve,” Gaer said. “That satisfaction with city services is all the more remarkable because our population has increased dramatically and the city now includes parts of four counties — Polk, Dallas, Warren and Madison.”
That growth has included a major expansion by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the arrival of Aviva USA and numerous other commercial and retail expansions.
Gaer said his fiscal priorities in a new term would be a continuation of his current commitment to balance budgets, maintain the city’s AAA bond rating and stringent controls on property taxes, increase the city’s commercial tax base and partner with other cities, school districts and counties to enhance services and lower costs.
“Only 93 cities in the entire country are top rated by both Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s. West Des Moines is one of them and, as a result, we’ve been able to save millions of dollars in interest payments by refinancing a number of our general obligation bonds,” he said. “At the same time, we’ve made crucial infrastructure investments to make continued development possible.”
Gaer said his quality-of-life priorities will continue to be encouraging job growth; maintaining strong parks, recreation facilities and trails; maintaining the highest quality public safety; strengthening library services; maintaining quality streets and management of traffic congestion; ensuring that city officials make decisions in the long-term best interest of all residents; continuously evaluating the need for additional public facilities and continuing the Valley Junction rehabilitation/restoration.
“We’re on the right track and I want to keep the city headed in that direction over the next four years,” Gaer said. “That’s why I’m seeking another term and that’s why I’m asking for the community’s support in this November’s election.”
Gaer served two terms on the city council, starting in 1996, before being elected mayor in a special election in 2007. He was elected to a full, four-year term in 2009.
A 1979 graduate of Valley High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree with high distinction from the University of Kentucky in 1983 and a juris doctorate with honors from Drake University Law School in 1986. He was an attorney with the Ahlers & Cooney Law Firm from 1986 to 1994. From 1994 to 2004, he worked at Kirke-Van Orsdel/Marsh, Inc., where he was vice president/associate general counsel before being promoted to managing director. Since 2004, Gaer has been the chief operating officer and general counsel for the R&R Realty Group.
He and his wife Sally have raised the fifth generation of Gaers who are proud of their West Des Moines roots. Their son Jacob was the third generation to graduate from Valley High School and is a 2009 graduate of the University of Iowa. Their daughter Margaret is a 2009 Valley High School graduate.
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