If Iowa's residents were asked what local city they most loathed, there is strong reason to believe that "West Des Moines" would be the most popular answer. Words often used to describe the city are "wealthy", "trendy", "arrogant", and "modern".
As of 2007, West Des Moines' city council is the highest paid in the nation for a city its size (it is followed closely by Albany, the capitol of New York), but when one examines the city's recent growth it becomes apparent why this is so. The city has demonstrated jaw-dropping growth over the past 5 years, constructing what is currently the largest shopping mall in Iowa, the national headquarters for Wells Fargo Bank, and a plethora of smaller businesses also located near the aforementioned mall within this time period.
Valley High School of West Des Moines has in recent years dominated high school sports and academic competitions, much to the ire of native residents throughout the rest of the state, whose local high school teams routinely face unrelenting punishment from "those damned Valley Kids". In 2006 Valley High School's football team was ranked as one of the top 3 in the nation (state champions in Iowa), and in the same year Valley High School's mock trial team won their national championship. The debate team is also nationally renowned as well as the marching band and orchestra (which earned recognition from the Grammy Association in 2002).
West Des Moines' strong growth and education system can largely be attributed to the area's large but unevenly distributed wealth. The richest residents tend to live on the west side of the town while the poorer, more established residents often reside in the eastern Valley Junction area. Surprisingly there is remarkably little class conflict or animosity, however many residents are uncomfortable with being labeled as rich or arrogant by outsiders, and often go out of their way to prove themselves contrary to this common stereotype within Iowa.