DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Councilmember Indira Sheumaker continues to have an empty seat at city council meetings.
The last time the Ward 1 councilmember attended a full meeting of the city council was on March 6.
The Des Moines Register reported in April that according to her father, Sheumaker had been hospitalized, but didn't provide details on the reason for or length of her stay.
Local 5 visited the family's home seeking more information, but no one responded, although two vehicles were parked on the property during our visit.
This isn't the first time Sheumaker's attendance has raised concerns: she missed a string of meetings in 2022, which she attributed to a combination of COVID and depression in a statement.
Constituents were sympathetic but wanted more communication from their councilmember.
"If she's ill, I hope she's taking care of herself as well," said Tracy Struble, a resident of Ward 1. "But I think her constituents probably need to know what's going on, people that voted for her."
Sheumaker's absence has led some to wanting her out of office altogether. Angelo Thorne started a petition that received over 220 signatures, asking for the councilmember to step down.
"I did talk to the state secretary, they did give me some information on the process," Thorne said. "It looks like I need about 25% of her votes."
Not everyone wants Sheumaker to leave her position; many voters are simply hoping for her to fill her seat again for future meetings, bringing their voice back to the city's government.
"Hopefully she makes contact with the city council and let them know what's going on and potentially get back into the meetings," Struble said.
Local 5 has attempted to connect with Sheumaker as we've covered her absence, but she has not responded to any of our requests for comment.