Casino Debate Heats Up - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Casino Debate Heats Up

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By Alex Schuman

aschuman@myabc5.com

@alexschuman

If you drive through Indianola or Norwalk this week the towns look like it should be November, and it's not just because of the snow that came down Thursday.  There are campaign signs everywhere. 

"I've been an economic developer for about a dozen years, and this is about the only project I've worked on in a dozen years where we actually have a campaign," said Jason White, Warren County Economic Development.

The vote itself will not decide if a casino gets built in Warren County, but does show Iowa's Gaming Commission how many people support the idea. 

In the short couple months since the plan was first floated past voters a sea of pamphlets, signs, and ads have barraged Warren County residents trying to sway them one way or another. 

"The people of Warren County want jobs here at home," said White.

The battle has expanded to the extent The Family Leader, a group normally focused on statewide politics, brought themselves into the mix.

"They start looking at, 'Do you really want that in your backyard?  Do you really want the sign on Norwalk to say, 'What happens in Norwalk stays in Norwalk?'" said Bob Vander Plaats, Family Leader's president.

Warren County's leadership believes a casino would offer local jobs and bring tax dollars back into the county they lose to Polk and Dallas counties.

While the opposing side just does not trust it will work.

"We have a better way to do that," said Vander Plaats.  "Let's have a competitive tax structure, let's do economic development the right way."

Polls open for the vote this coming Tuesday, May 7th.

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