Former Foreign Service officer to seek Iowa Senate seat

Janice Weiner
Janice Weiner

CEDAR RAPIDS — Janice Weiner thinks her career as a political officer in the Foreign Service “getting to know people of all political stripes” will be a real asset as a member of the Iowa Senate.

Weiner, a Coralville native who moved back to Johnson County in 2015 after retiring from the Foreign Service, is seeking the Democratic nomination in Iowa Senate 37, which covers northern and eastern Johnson County, all of Cedar County and part of Muscatine County.

Weiner is announcing her bid today to succeed Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, who plans to retire at the end of his current term. He served in the Iowa House from 1986 until 1994 when he was elected to the Senate. He announced his retirement this fall.

Weiner, 60, a Princeton University and Stanford law graduate, started a 26-year diplomatic career in East Berlin before the wall came down. Her other postings included Belgium, Turkey, Poland, Canada, Mexico City and Düsseldorf, Germany, as consul general. Her final posting was in the bureau of legislative affairs at the State Department, coordinating with Capitol Hill.

She’s no stranger to Iowa politics. In 1984, she ran the Democrats’ Johnson County get-out-the-vote campaign, helping Tom Harkin get elected to the U.S. Senate. In 2016, Weiner worked as a field organizer for the party.

She said that deepened her determination to ensure that progressive candidates get elected.

She’s running because she sees an opportunity for Democrats to reverse the policies enacted in the 2017 legislative session by Republicans who control the House, Senate and governor’s office.

“This really is a battle of Iowa’s future, for the future of our kids, for the future of our elderly, for the future of all Iowans,” Weiner said. “I want to join that battle.”

She probably won’t be the only Senate 37 Democrat who enlists.


“I expect there will be at least several of us in the primary,” Weiner said. “That’s the way it should be. These seats come open so rarely in this area that I think it’s healthy for the party and everyone in the area to have a real contest.”

Her priorities are education, financial responsibility and economic development, and “taking care of everyone.”

“A government ultimately is measured by how well we take care of those most in need. In my view, we are currently failing this test,” Weiner said, referring to Iowa’s privatization of Medicaid management and lack of mental health services.

Weiner, who has two daughters, lives in Iowa City where she is on the board of Shelter House and Agudas Achim Synagogue, and belongs to the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, Community Band and Hospice Singers.

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