Halley Griess, a third-year law student at Drake University, was elected to the Des Moines City Council during Tuesday’s Ward 1 run-off.
Griess received 52 percent of the vote to upset 20-year veteran councilman Tom Vlassis, a retired pharmacist and Drake alumnus, who garnered 48 percent of the vote. Griess received 2,261 votes while Vlassis received 2,110, according to unofficial election totals.
Griess, 23, is managing editor of the Drake University Journal of Agricultural Law and past president of the Drake University Campus Fellowship. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Drake in 2008. He works part time in the insurance industry and also has been active as a coach and organizer of Central City Soccer.
During his campaign to represent the city’s northwest side, Griess stressed the city’s need for new leadership. He also emphasized dissatisfaction among some Des Moines residents over the handling of public hearings on a proposal to develop the site of the former Rice Elementary School in Beaverdale.
Griess monitored the election results at a party he hosted Tuesday night for family, friends and supporters at Plaza Lanes on Douglas Avenue. In commenting on his victory, he graciously acknowledged his opponent’s contributions to the city over the last 20 years.
“I’m really pleased with how it turned out,” Griess told the Des Moines Register. “I want to thank Tom for running a great campaign. He’s been such a staple in Des Moines, and he’s really been a great ambassador for Des Moines. I’m really just excited to try and fill his shoes going forward.”
Vlassis, 74, congratulated Griess after surveying the election results with his family, friends and supporters at Christopher’s Restaurant in Beaverdale.
“I’m a little disappointed, but by the same token, it’s been a great ride for 20 years,” Vlassis told the Des Moines Register. “I’ve had a lot of good people that I’ve met and worked with. I’ve enjoyed that.”
Griess will be sworn into office early in January. One of the first issues he will face is the need to cut spending by $11 million over the next two fiscal years in order to balance the city’s budget.