About Steve Gaer

Because of my father’s service on the West Des Moines City Council from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, I developed an early appreciation for positive leadership.  It was obvious that my dad and his colleagues were guided by a commitment to keep the public’s trust and guide the community in a direction that was in the long-term best interests of the city, its citizens, business owners and employees.

It would’ve been hard to find better role models.  And, I’ve followed those same principles during the eight years I served as a West Des Moines Council member starting in 1996 and during the past two years as your mayor.

The years since 1996 have been some of the most important in West Des Moines' history from the standpoint of smart, responsible growth and the development of a responsive and forward-looking city government.  For example, during my years on the council, the city:

  • Completed and opened its new, state-of-the-art library;
  • Renovated Holiday Park pool;
  • Constructed a skateboard park at Legion Park;
  • Built the new City Hall to better serve the needs of the community;
  • Worked with General Growth Properties as the real-estate giant developed Jordan Creek Town Center, the largest mall in Iowa, and led robust retail, commercial and residential growth in the city’s western section;
  • Worked with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage’s leadership team, encouraging the financial services powerhouse to build a 900,000-square-feet office campus and ensuring the process went as smoothly as possible for one of the community’s largest employers;
  • Conducted expansive personnel searches to make sure we were hiring the best available individuals for city manager, police chief, city attorney and directors of human resources, human services and public works.

Those are just a few of the city’s major accomplishments during my time on the City Council. In addition, during my two years as your mayor:

  • Business Week named West Des Moines as one of its Top 10 Affordable Suburbs in 2009;
  • West Des Moines has stood as one of only 127 cities nationwide to hold a AAA bond rating;
  • Major corporations including Microsoft and AVIVA have chosen to build in West Des Moines;
  • Building permits of more than $490 million were issued in 2008 (higher than at any point in the city's 116-year history;
  • The 2009-10 city budget has strong operating reserve balances, reductions in controllable expenses and no increase in property taxes, and;
  • West Des Moines has been one of only four cities to have all three public safety departments – police, fire and EMS – nationally accredited.

While West Des Moines has been blessed with tremendous growth, we’ve managed that growth wisely. We have balanced citizens' needs for new amenities, built the necessary infrastructure to encourage and keep up with growth, expanded park and recreation opportunities, and managed to deliver top-notch city services to our residents and businesses. Most importantly for the benefit of all taxpayers, we’ve accomplished this progress while holding the line on property taxes.

The combination of living in West Des Moines for the past 46 years, my professional experience and a decade-plus of public service, gives me the background and skills to draw upon to best serve you. We all have a big investment in our city and I pledge to do all that I can to ensure that we get the most out of our investment.

Our city's future is bright – and only getting brighter.  I’m honored to work for you and your neighbors as your mayor and lead West Des Moines forward during the next four years. And, I give you my word that I’ll always serve you in the tradition of honesty, integrity and dedication that I first learned from my father and his colleagues.


  • Lifetime resident of West Des Moines
  • Married 25 years to Sally (children: Jacob 21 and Margaret 19)
  • Father of Jacob - 2009 Graduate of University of Iowa (Third generation from Valley High School)
  • Father of Margaret - Senior at Valley High School
  • Attending Lutheran Church of Hope


  • Second generation Graduate of Valley High School (1979)
  • State of Iowa Scholar
  • President of the National Honor Society (1978-79)
  • American Citizenship Award
  • Member of two State golf championship teams
  • Chair of the Valley High School Alumni Association (1989-90)
  • B.A. from the University of Kentucky (1983) with high distinction
  • JD from Drake University Law School (1986) with honors
  • Article published in 38 Drake Law Review 261 (1988-89)


  • West Des Moines Mayor (April 2007 to Present)
  • WDM City Council member At Large (1996-2003)
  • Mayor Pro Tem (1998-99)
  • West Des Moines Community Schools Foundation for Educational Excellence
  • Trustee (1989-94)
  • Vice-Chair (1989-90)
  • Chair (1990-91)
  • West Des Moines Capital Improvement Committee (2005-07)
  • West Des Moines Development Corporation (Officer)
  • West Des Moines Little League (Player and Parent Volunteer)
  • Variety Club (Volunteer)
  • Member of Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (1999-2001)
  • Polk County Redistricting Committee (2001)
  • Great Des Moines Partnership (Executive Committee and Board of Directors)
  • Choose Des Moines Communities (Board of Directors)
  • Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (West Des Moines representative)
  • Member of year 2000 Class of “Forty Under 40" (Future Business Leaders of Central Iowa as recognized by the Business Record)
  • Given a “Key to the City” in 2003 by Mayor Gene Meyer


  • Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel- R&R Realty Group (2004 to present)
  • Vice President/Associate General Counsel and promoted to Managing Director - Kirke-Van Orsdel/Marsh, Inc. (1994-2004)
  • Attorney with Ahlers & Cooney Law Firm (1986-1994)