Ankeny Council Wants Local Business Owner to Fill Vacant Seat

In a unanimous decision, the Ankeny City Council voted Monday night to recommend the appointment of former Planning and Zoning Commissioner Denny Rafdal to fill the council seat that will be vacated by Craig Block at the end of this month.

The Ankeny City Council is considering a local business owner and former Planning and Zoning Commissioner to join the council at the beginning of next month.

The Ankeny City Council voted unanimously during its regular meeting Monday night to appoint a replacement to fill . The council is recommending the spot be filled by Denny Rafdal, who served 13 years on the city's Plan and Zoning Commission.

According to a press release issued by the , the council made the decision to avoid the costs associated with holding a special election.

Do you agree with the council's decision? Do you think Rafdal is a good choice to fill Block's seat? Tell us in the comments.

"We are fortunate that a well-known, experienced and respected individual has come forward to serve our community only until the next regular city council election," council member Dave Kissinger said in the release.

Holding a special election would have cost the city $12,000. That amount would double should there be a primary election.

"This decision is the right decision for our community," Kissinger said. "It saves taxpayers money and come 2013, it will be up to voters to decide who they want to elect to the city council."

Block, who doesn't have a say on his replacement, that the public would have more confidence if members selected an appointee who had previous experience with a public council.

“I’d support that thought,” council member Wade Steenhoek said at the April 30 meeting.

If appointed, Rafdal will serve until the next regular council election in 2013.

Rafdal has a history of public service in Ankeny, previously serving four years on the Ankeny Park Board as well as on the Plan and Zoning Commission. As commissioner, he was involved in the development of the Ankeny Comprehensive Plan during a period of significant community growth.

The council will consider his appointment at its regular meeting on May 21.

Joe Dygas May 09, 2012 at 12:25 PM
The city does not want to pay the cost of a special election which could be as low as $12,000 , but the city council and city manager had no problem at all spending in excess of $40 Million on projects of all sorts and then found themselves unable to pay for the debt service. Consequenty they recently raised property taxes. Appointing a good old boy to the council is not the wisest course of action for Ankeny because it signals continued mismanagement by the city.
Jim Zupan May 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
What is up with bringing back old blood? Ankeny needs new people in office. I want to know how we the people can demand a special election. No more of this garbage. Joe is totally right, we do not need a good ole boy on the council. They didn't have a special election because they didn’t “want we the people” deciding who would represent “us”.
Mollie May 09, 2012 at 03:41 PM
The citizens can still have an election. Petitions are out for Citizens to sign. That information had not been given by City Hall. The appointment will be temporary if we have an election.
Nick Berry May 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
At no point is it okay for the city council to appoint people to elected seats, spend the $12,000 after all if giving the City Manager nearly half a million dollars they can afford fair and legal elections.
Megan VerHelst May 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Mollie, where are these petitions located if an Ankeny resident wants to sign one?
Deb Dyar May 09, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Mollie, This is Deb Dyar with the City of Ankeny. The City issued a press release on April 25, 2012 outlining the procedures for filling a city council vacancy, including by a citizen petition. You can read it online here: http://tinyurl.com/6vw6tka
Mollie May 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Thanks Deb, however, why wasn't this information included in the press release? People don't think they can have an election according to the press release. Megan, citizens can get a petition from the City Hall. They can sign it and get signatures.
Mollie May 09, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Megan, the link Deb Dyar provided will have a link to the petition form provided by the Polk County election office.
Nick Berry May 09, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Mollie there are several people collecting signatures, I know I will personally be out collecting tonight after supper, and tomorrow night also. Possibly over my lunch too. From my understanding there is a City Council meeting Monday evening, and this is when the petitions will be presented to the council members.
Tara May 09, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Didn’t we just have a City Council election in November? As I recall, there were five candidates that received votes by the citizens of Ankeny. The top three candidates with the highest number of votes were appointed to the Council, right? So why not appoint the candidate with the fourth highest total of votes? Mr. Rafdal chose not to run in November 2011, why should he be appointed? I don’t personally know Mr. Rafdal or the candidate with the fourth highest votes, my concern is the principle of this situation. If the Ankeny City Council appoints someone to fill a vacancy without an election or campaign, I feel like they are saying my vote doesn’t count AND if I ever want to hold a position on the council, I just need to know someone, not spend money and work hard to serve our community.
Megan VerHelst May 09, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Thanks, Mollie and Deb! I thought that would be a good resource for everyone to know, especially if a special election is still an option. It was good info for me as well.
Mollie May 09, 2012 at 06:27 PM
TEMPORARY appointment until We, the Citizens of Ankeny, have our vote. You can't just take a previous election and appoint the 4th runner up. 3 seats were open with 5 candidates, 2 new, 3 incumbants. I think the Citizens WHO VOTED spoke clearly they wanted NEW in and the OLD out.
Deb Dyar May 09, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Mollie, Monday's press release was an announcement of the city council's decision to appoint a replacement for Council Member Block and it included the two options available to elected officials (1) appointment and (2) special election. We have updated Monday’s press release (http://tinyurl.com/ceakwex) to include the link to the April 25th press release that outlines the procedures in detail. We appreciate you asking these questions and hope this addresses them and helps to inform others of the options available to them. If you or others have questions, we encourage you to contact the city clerk's office at 965-6400.
Jim Zupan May 09, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I would love to sign one of these petittions, Will anyone be out in publice with one?
Tia May 10, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Mollie, Thank you for making sure the citizens of Ankeny understand they DO have options!
Tom Reiland May 10, 2012 at 12:23 PM
There are several petitions being circulated around town and I have one as well. I'm certain that more than the required 315 signatures will be met and we will have a special election! To me, spending approximately $12,000 is the price we have to pay for living in a democracy, it's just a price that will have to be paid. It's refreshing to see several people on here who care enough to speak their mind and want the election, even though a small group on the Council thinks otherwise.
Megan VerHelst May 10, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Tom and Nick, you both said you have petitions — is there a way people can get in touch with or find you if they'd like to sign yours rather than start a new one?
Nick Berry May 10, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I will be out and about Sunday getting signatures, if they would like to hunt me down they can call me at 515-867-8111 and we can meetup then. Or e-mail me your address and I will swing by Sunday afternoon my email is nickberry@plaxant.com
Deb Dyar May 10, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Mr. Reiland, The City of Ankeny is pleased to see citizens like yourself engaged in the democratic process of replacing Councilman Block's open seat. I wanted to take this opportunity to make clear that the authority to do so has always been in the hands of Ankeny citizens. The action the city council took last Monday was not to subvert the wishes of Ankeny citizens, but to allow the city council to govern effectively until such time a citizen petition was submitted into the record or until the next regular election. During the meeting, city council members encouraged citizens to submit a petition for a special election. The audio from that meeting is available on the city website for anyone who would like to listen to it. http://tinyurl.com/83exkz7
Megan VerHelst May 10, 2012 at 07:05 PM
That's a great bit of info, Deb. Thanks for that!
Tom Reiland May 11, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Anyone who would like to sign a petition can send me an e-mail at AFD47@aol.com and I will gladly meet with them to get a signature.
Jim C. May 11, 2012 at 05:22 AM
I believe that the seat should go to the next candidate in the last election. Candidates that wanted to run did and Ankeny already voted just a few months ago. That person should be Strait and he also was voted on several terms before then. Why spend this money when we just had an election? Regardless, the city council should be appointing Strait who was next in line, not another individual who didn't run and Ankeny didn't vote for.
Barbara Johnston May 11, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I'm not necessarily a fan of "The Des Moines Register" but I have to say, their article about the special council meeting was more thorough than what is presented on this website and CERTAINLY paints the "Other" councilmen in a more fair light than this article or these comments do. The way all of you are making this sound is that the "2 old guys" want to avoid a special election when in fact, for those of you who did NOT attend the meeting, that is not at all what is being said. It is very unfortunate how public servants are raked over the coals by people who may not even attend the meetings but profess to be the expert on all things political. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120509/COMM/305090088/Longtime-Ankeny-barber-to-fill-seat?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Ankeny&community=Ankeny Hopefully Megan won't mind the reference to DSM Reg considering they share stories from time to time...
Megan VerHelst May 11, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Barbara, I addressed your comment in this thread: http://ankeny.patch.com/articles/want-to-sign-a-petition-to-hold-a-special-election-for-craig-block-s-council-seat#comments.
Joe Dygas May 12, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Jim: call me at 515-650-7236. I have petition copies available for signature. I will be out tomorrow working on gathering more signatures from those in favor of an election. Sometimes, I wonder if folks realize government is supposed to be by the people, for the people and of the people.
Joe Dygas May 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
If anyone wants to sign the petition for a special election, call me at 515-650-7236 and I will meet you appropriately.
Jack F May 14, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Wow Mollie who got your hair all twisted in a not??? For the record we did not get rid of the OLD... Block was left to spend some before he reneged. 4 runner up should get the appointment.


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