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Indira Sheumaker has resigned from Des Moines City Council: What's next?

In a resignation letter dated Aug. 31, Sheumaker writes simply: "I resign from my position as councilperson Rep. Ward 1 effective immediately."

DES MOINES, Iowa — Indira Sheumaker, the Des Moines city councilmember who has been absent from her post for months, has resigned.

Mayor Frank Cownie released an update on Sheumaker, saying her father Randy Sheumaker hand-delivered her resignation letter to the city Wednesday. The letter was then filed by the City Clerk's Office.

In the same update, Cownie wrote that he and the city council will now "take the time provided by statute to determine next steps."

The mayor also issued a statement, saying, "We wish Ms. Sheumaker the best and appreciate Ms. Sheumaker’s time on the council.”

Why did Sheumaker resign?

The resignation comes after Cownie tried to have a letter delivered to Sheumaker, asking for her to tell the city her intentions for the future of her council seat. In that letter, which was unable to be delivered, Cownie said he and the rest of her fellow councilmembers were concerned for her wellbeing.

In the resignation letter dated Aug. 31, Sheumaker writes simply: "I resign from my position as councilperson Rep. Ward 1 effective immediately."

Earlier this summer, a petition was created by members of the ward Sheumaker represented, asking for her to resign.

The Des Moines Register reported in April, roughly a month since Sheumaker was last seen at a council meeting, that they received a text from Sheumaker's father saying she was hospitalized.

In 2022, Sheumaker also had a string of absences from council meetings. Though, she later returned, saying the pandemic and her mental health had taken a toll on her well-being.

What's next for Ward 1 residents?

City council is now tasked with deciding next steps for the Ward 1 vacancy. 

Councilman Josh Mandelbaum of Ward 3 believes a special election should decide who joins the council.

"State law requires a special election in these circumstances ... fill a vacancy within 90 days," he said. "A November special election also guarantees that Ward 1 will have an elected representative for the next budget cycle, which is among the most important decisions we make as a council."

At-Large Councilwoman Connie Boesen noted how rare of a situation this is.

"This is something new. This is new territory," she said. "I've served on the school board, I've served on the city council now and nothing like this has ever happened before."

Bill Gray, who represented Ward 1 before losing to Sheumaker in 2021, said he would be interested in filling the vacant seat, but only if appointed. He is undecided on if he'd run if there was a special election.

The city council's next scheduled meeting is Monday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.

Read the statement from Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie

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