Democratic primary taking shape in southeast Cedar Rapids district

Both candidates have public service backgrounds

One Democrat is announcing her fundraising success while another is announcing his candidacy for the party’s nomination in a southeast Cedar Rapids Iowa House district.

Liz Bennett is reporting she’s raised $12,000 for her campaign in Iowa House 65, currently held by Rep. Tyler Olson, also a Democrat.

Gary Anhalt, a retired teacher with 40 years of experience in the Cedar Rapids school district, also is seeking the Democratic nomination in the district.

Bennett is claiming strong public support for her campaign with 93 backers donating more than $12,000 since she launched her campaign in July. Her campaign finance report due later this month will show Iowans for Liz Bennett has $10,335 cash on hand.

“Our fundraising success shows that voters share my vision of living wages, good paying jobs, progressive environmental policy and diverse communities that attract and retain young professionals,” she said, “and they support my candidacy strongly enough to invest early.”

Anhalt, a second-term Cedar Rapids school board member, kicked off his campaign Jan. 6. He called being the lone vote against closing Polk Elementary School one of his proudest achievements from his first term.

Anhalt sees the House seat as “another way, a bigger way to give back to community.”

“I’ve been in public service for 44 years and have come to recognize clearly that everything that happens educationally in Iowa is controlled by legislation and by (state) code,” Anhalt said. “I want to have a bigger impact on education policy.”

Anhalt, an education major from Winona (Minn.) State University, is a lifetime member of the National Education Association and Iowa State Education Association. He twice served as local association president and ISEA Executive Board member.

He is familiar with education policy and believes that education is the basis for strong economic growth that translates into jobs and the growth of the Cedar Rapids community.

Anhalt is married with three grown children all of whom attended Cedar Rapids Community Schools. His wife, Holly, is a retired para-educator.

Bennett has been active served been active in state and local politics for several years as a member of the Linn County Democratic Central Committee in 2009 and a delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She also has volunteered on legislative campaigns as well as Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

A Cornell College graduate with majors in politics and women’s studies, Bennett was a volunteer and regional organizer for the One Iowa campaign for same-sex marriage.

She works for Go Daddy.

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