The chairwoman of the DART Commission, Angela Connolly, held on to her elected office of Polk County Supervisor on Tuesday by defeating Republican challenger Anita Morrill. Early returns show Connolly, a Democrat, having received 65 percent of the votes to Morrill’s 34 percent.
Connolly has been the chair of the DART Commission for the past two years. , DART General Manager Brad Miller praised Connolly during last month’s grant announcement event for being a tireless advocate of public transit in Greater Des Moines.
The DART Commission is made up of nine members. Two of them, including Connolly, are appointed by the Polk County Board of Supervisors and are at-large representatives.
The remaining Commissioners represent one of the seven DART Districts, which are drawn to be nearly identical to the seven State Senate Districts within DART’s service area. Each district appoints a Commissioner through a Selection Committee, which is made up of the mayors of the cities within the district.
The appointees are usually elected officials, but they are not required to be. Currently, six of the nine Commissioners hold elected office. None of the DART Commissioners other than Connolly was up for reelection on Tuesday.
Also up for reelection on Tuesday were two state officials whose early support for the Transit Hub made its funding possible this year, namely the $4 million state grant that acted as local match money and leveraged the subsequent federal investments totaling $16.5 million. They would be Gov. Chet Culver and State Sen. Matt McCoy, both Democrats. Culver lost to former Governor and now Governor-elect Terry Branstad, while McCoy defeated his Republican challenger, Dave Leach.
At the federal level, Congressman Leonard Boswell defeated Republican challenger Brad Zaun. Boswell, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, helped secure both the $6.5 million and $10 million federal grants awarded to the Transit Hub this year.