A Record of Results
Bob Brownell is a can-do, hands-on leader with a record of results at the local and county levels.
 
As a councilman and then mayor of one of Des Moines’ fastest-growing and prosperous suburbs, Bob was instrumental in leading the City of Clive into unique collaborations and municipal partnerships to improve services and get the most for taxpayers’ dollars. For instance, Clive and West Des Moines were the first Iowa communities ever to share a fire station. Windsor Heights and Clive combined resources to provide the highest-level paramedic rescue services. And, Clive, West Des Moines and Urbandale broke new political ground with a collaborative emergency communications center called WestCom.
 

“Those collaborations look like they just make plain, common sense. But, it took some hard work and none of them would’ve happened without the right personalities in each community,” Brownell explains. “It certainly gave me an appreciation for the importance of building strong working relationships across community, political and philosophical lines.”

 
Bob puts himself on the front lines to gain practical knowledge about an issue or a group. In 2006, he posed as a homeless person and checked into two homeless shelters in Des Moines. In 2007, he posed as an alcoholic homeless person and spent a week in the YMCA's transitional housing unit with 166 other men. “I can get the red-carpet treatment any time I want but there’s really no substitute for firsthand, see-it-for-yourself information, particularly in populations that many of us just don’t understand,” Brownell notes.
 
Bob has initiated twice a quarter visits to his City Councils in cities he represents. “I’ve found that this really helps me grasp what’s going on in a particular city,” he says, “there have been a lot of instances where just being there has revealed ways in which the county can help a city achieve their goals. “I don’t know if that happens if I’m not sitting in the audience and maintaining some sort of relationship with the Mayor and Council.”
 
 
 
 
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Bob BrownellBob Brownell wasn’t always a Republican.  But like many Americans who watched the Democratic Party leave them as its leadership drifted farther and farther to the left, Bob felt the irresistible pull of Ronald Reagan’s conservative message of less government, lower taxes and personal responsibility and freedom.

“I didn’t believe then, nor do I believe now,” he continued, “that the rank and file Democrat believes in any of this more government, more taxes and interference in peoples’ lives baloney the leadership espouses. Unfortunately, it’s not the hard-working, common-sense rank-and-file folks who are calling the shots within the Democratic Party; it’s the party elite and their moneyed interests far removed from Iowa.”

Bob won his first campaign, a special election for a seat on the Clive City Council, in 1985.  He was re-elected twice, each in contested campaigns. In 1993, Bob sought the mayor’s office in a special election after Gene Maddox won a seat in the Iowa Senate.  Bob was elected with more than 60 percent of the vote.  In 2000, Bob made the difficult decision to challenge Polk County Supervisor George Mills in the GOP primary in the district that includes West Des Moines, Clive and Urbandale.

“It was a very tough call, because I really respected and liked George a lot but I felt just as strongly that it was time for new leadership,” Bob recalls.
 
Mills decided to retire, pitting Bob against two formidable opponents.  Bob rolled to victory with 63 percent of the vote and was re-elected in 2004. Having won six elections without a loss, Bob is seeking a third term on the Polk County Board of Supervisors and his name has surfaced as a potential congressional or gubernatorial contender.

Bob works hard to elect other Republicans, too.  He actively backed George W. Bush in 2000 and was a prominent supporter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, winner of the 2008 GOP Iowa caucuses. Bob campaigned actively for former Urbandale Mayor Brad Zaun’s winning state Senate campaign in 2002 and state Sen. Patricia Ward in her victory in a 2004 special election.  That same year, while unopposed for re-election, Bob contributed more than $4,000 from his campaign to the county party so it could put those resources where they were needed most. 

“The political figures that I admire most are the ones who are all about finding solutions and looking for ways that unite us,” he explains.
 
Nowhere but Des Moines
Bob BrownellRobert Brownell was born in Lincoln, Neb., and his family soon moved to Cedar Rapids. His father, Jim, worked his entire career at Collins Radio, now known as Rockwell-Collins, as an electrical engineer.  He was a team leader on NASA’s Mercury and Apollo space programs and when Neil Armstrong made the “one small step for man…” in July 1969, it was Collins equipment that transmitted those excited and historic words.

Bob’s teen years were rocky, landing him at the Missouri Military Academy during his junior year of high school. “I hated every single second at MMA; but it was the one event, in those years, that turned my life around. I’m now very grateful to have had the opportunity.” His academic and military achievements at MMA were so exemplary that he was allowed to re-enroll at Kennedy High School. Completing a remarkable turnaround, Bob was elected student body president and was chosen as the editor of the school newspaper, the Kennedy Torch.  He also won a national writing award for his editorial entitled “Student Power.”

Bob attended and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with undergraduate degrees in education and English.  He married Jenna Jurgensen just before his junior year there. In his senior year, Bob undertook the student teaching segment of his studies – and quickly concluded a career in the classroom was not for him. “I realized what a special talent and gift it is to be able to teach and mentor people; particularly young people, and even though I received an “A’ for my student teaching I recognized it just wasn’t for me. To this day, I have an absolute appreciation for people that are successful teachers.”
 
Bob BrownellUpon graduation, Bob was hired by the transcontinental motor carrier, Roadway Express. Bob held positions accross the Midwest there as sales rep, operations supervisor,terminal operations manager at the Rock Island break-bulk and terminal manager in two locations.  Bob and Jenna moved eight times in the 10 years he spent with Roadway. Ultimately, he was transferred to Des Moines.

“This is the literal truth: I pulled the car over onto the shoulder of I-235 under the sign that reads, ‘Des Moines’, I got out and literally kissed the ground. That’s how much I wanted to be in Des Moines,” he recalled. “Des Moines was great because it had so much and it’s just gotten better and better over the years.”

 
Two years after arriving in Des Moines, Bob had such a strong affection for the community that he turned down a promotion that would have taken him to St. Louis as a national account manager.  “I wanted to raise my family in Des Moines,” he recalled. He took a sales rep position with Roadway’s biggest competitor, Yellow Freight System. Nine months later, he was the branch manager.
 
Bob and Jenna continue to live in the same house they moved into when Bob was transferred to Des Moines from the Quad Cities. They have one son, Kevin, a Dowling High school graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree from Bradley University and law degree from Creighton Law School. Kevin practices law in Des Moines and is married to the former Maria Smith of Omaha.
 
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