In one of the more hotly contested state legislative races in the Iowa, Art Staed won his way back to the Iowa legislature by defeating incumbent Renee Schulte, 9,218 votes to 7,536 votes in House District 66. Schulte had defeated Staed in 2008 after he’d served one term in the legislature.
It was one of seven Linn County legislative races – two for the senate and five for the house – contested Tuesday.
“Everybody here is celebrating,” said Staed, 63, of Cedar Rapids, by cellphone after his victory.
“It was talking to voters, knocking on more than 15,000 doors, listening to what voters had to say and a lot of volunteer labor,” said the teacher, business owner and former legislator. He added that his first order of business will be to consult his notes “to see what people have told me.”
“I want to give voice to the people of my district about their concerns – jobs, health care, education and help for small businesses.”
Schulte, 41, of Cedar Rapids, a mental health therapist, could not be reached for comment by deadline. She had told the Gazette voters’ guide that the economy, education and budget were her priorities.
“Getting Iowans back to work by making Iowa more competitive on the world scale,” she said. “We have the best educated, hardest working workforce in the country. We need to make sure that our tax and regulatory structure is conducive to attracting and growing businesses in Iowa.”
Incumbents in House District 68 and Senate District 48 were also defeated Tuesday.
In House District 68, Democratic challenger Daniel Lundby of Marion edged Republican incumbent Nick Wagner by 99 votes – 8,424 to 8,325. Wagner, 39, an engineer/senior project manager from Marion, had served two terms in the house.
Lundby, 36, the son of the late Sen. Mary Lundby, a Marion Republican who began campaigning by her side when he was seven, said he would bring his mother’s common sense approach to solving problems to the legislature. “She saw a need for fresh new ideas not fueled by party agendas, but through listening to the voters who elected her,” he said when announcing for office.
Lundby’s primary reasons for seeking a house seat included improving the educational system to offer young Iowans more options for getting good jobs and to recruit new small businesses to Iowa as a way to create jobs.
Wagner said the biggest issue facing the state, as well as the nation, is the economy. “We need to focus on getting Iowans back to work by creating the right environment that promotes business growth and job creation. To start we need to continue to ensure the state budget is balanced and we are not spending more than we take in.”
In Senate District 48, Republican challenger Dan Zumbach, 52, a Ryan farmer, defeated Democratic State Representative Nate Willems, 33, a Lisbon attorney, with 13,168 votes to 12,136.
Zumbach, as the owner/operator of Shelldan Farms for 33 years, said his top three priorities were the creation and expansion of jobs, property tax reform and improving student achievement. “Changing the property tax structure is essential for business attraction and expansion. This will bring business to Iowa, which in turn creates jobs,” he said.
Willems campaigned on the idea that Iowa needs to raise wages because its “lack of jobs that pay enough to allow you to raise a family may be a bigger issue than the number of jobs available.”
In Senate District 34, Incumbent Democrat Liz Mathis, 54, of Cedar Rapids, chief information officer at Four Oaks, handily won re-election by a 21,037 vote to 13,352 vote margin over challenger Ryan Flood, 26, of Cedar Rapids, a financial representative and political activist.
During her campaign, Mathis said “three of the biggest issues Iowa legislators should continue to work on are creating quality jobs, stimulating business growth and improving education.” She said worker training is needed to improve Iowa’s skilled workforce, authored a bill to help Iowa businesses earn state contracts and feels education can be improved by advancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.
Flood said job creation and a strong economy are the biggest issues facing Iowa today. “We must set a stable and fair business climate that will entice new businesses to move here and existing businesses to stay here,” he said, by lowering commercial property taxes and corporate taxes and cutting back on harmful regulations that stifle business growth.” He wanted to eliminate the state income tax and reduce property taxes to help families save more of their incomes.
In House District 67, Republican incumbent Kraig Paulsen, 48, an attorney from Hiawatha, retained his seat with an 8,870 vote to 7,884 vote victory over Democratic challenger Mark Seidl, 53, a Cedar Rapids lawyer.
Paulsen, during his campaign, said jobs for Iowans, controlling government spending and strengthening education at all levels are the biggest challenges facing the Legislature. He also pointed to his experience as speaker of the house, house
Seidl, who was a candidate in House District 37 in 2010, had said jobs would be his priority. “State government’s responsibility is not so much to create jobs as to attract jobs,” he said. “The best way for a state to do this is to maintain a high quality of life. Iowa has always recognized that the best way to make our state attractive is to provide for our children a top-notch education and a safe place to grow.”
In House District 70, Democratic incumbent Todd Taylor, 46, of Cedar Rapids received 64 percent of the vote in a 10,409 to 5,910 vote victory over Republican challenger Lance Lefebure, 31, a Cedar Rapids business owner.
Taylor cited “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” as his priority in The Gazette’s voters’ guide. “I believe strengthening our economy can be done by attracting and maintaining good-paying jobs. This begins by growing our skilled workforce to draw jobs to where the workers are and preparing our workers to get the training they need,” he said. “Our economy does well when we have a better-educated workforce.”
Lefebure told the voters’ guide that the economy, finances and education were his priorities. “I would like to simplify the process for starting a business, while also creating a business climate that encourages business growth in Iowa. Private sector growth is needed to resolve the unemployment situation, which will, in turn, resolve many other issues.”
In House District 95, by a slim 7,935 to 7,873 vote margin, Republican Quentin Stanerson, 35, a high school and middle school teacher from Center Point, defeated Democrat Kristin Keast, 52, of Mount Vernon, an elementary music teacher for more than 24 years.
Stanerson, who teaches government and economics and spent four years in the Marine Corps, said his top three priorities were getting Iowans back to work by creating an environment where businesses want to expand and new businesses want to come to Iowa, making sure the state’s fiscal house is in order and improving local schools.
Keast, who has three children and three grandchildren, campaigned on providing “21st Century education” for today’s youth in a global economy, growing a skilled workforce and good paying jobs with affordable community college educations, creating new jobs and strengthening Iowa’s agricultural economy by encouraging the use and production of renewable energy.
Longtime Johnson County Supervisor Sally Stutsman won a seat in the Iowa House in the District 77 race in Johnson County. Democrat Stutsman, 65, a five-term supervisor from Riverside, won with an unofficial tally of 9,802 votes compared to Republican opponent Steve Sherman, of North Liberty, who had 6,522 votes in the unofficial tally. Stutsman said her top concerns include resolving the commercial property tax issues, continuing the discussion on mental health reform and funding K-12 and higher education.
In the Iowa House District 73 race, which includes Cedar and northeast Johnson counties, Republican Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton will take over the House seat begin vacated by his father, longtime legislator Jeff Kaufmann. Kaufmann, 27, a farmer and business owner, defeated Democrat Dick Schwab, of Solon, by an unofficial margin of 8,437 votes to 6,657 votes, though one precinct in Muscatine County had not yet reported late Tuesday night. Kaufmann said he looks forward to bipartisan work at the Statehouse on issues including education and property tax reform.