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Women of Achievement | Advocating for the best educational environment

Mary Mascher

“My parents were very involved in politics. My father was on the school board and president of the National Farmers Organization, and my mother worked on political campaigns,” Mary Mascher says. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
“My parents were very involved in politics. My father was on the school board and president of the National Farmers Organization, and my mother worked on political campaigns,” Mary Mascher says. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

With politics in her blood and a calling for teaching, Mary Mascher has spent the past quarter of a century in the Iowa House of Representatives serving as an advocate for students and families.

Mascher hails from rural Johnson County, raised on her family’s century farm as the sixth of 12 children.

“My parents were very involved in politics,” she said. “My father was on the school board and president of the National Farmers Organization, and my mother worked on political campaigns.”

Mascher earned degrees in elementary education and counseling education from the University of Iowa, and then worked as a counselor and teacher in the Iowa City Community School District.

In 1994, while teaching at Weber Elementary in Iowa City, Mascher ran for and was elected to the Iowa House.

“My motivation for being in the Legislature was to advocate for the best educational environment for children and students,” she said. “I know what schools are about — how they work and function and what they need for funding — and all of the financial decisions for schools are made at the state level.”

For the next 15 years, Mascher continued to provide lessons for her students while serving her constituents.

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In the classroom, she mentored students in leadership skills and served as a role model to girls aspiring to elected office.

In the Statehouse, she sought opportunities for children and the less fortunate to succeed in life.

In 2009, Mascher retired from teaching after 33 years. Her work in the state Legislature continued, however. She said her proudest legislative achievement was saving the state’s four-year-old preschool program.

“It was important to me and a lot of families,” she said.

This past November, Mascher was reelected to her 12th term in the Iowa House of Representatives, running unopposed as a Democrat in District 86, which covers the southern part of Iowa City and the communities of Hills and University Heights.

“I spent a lot of time helping other candidates,” she said of the election. “We increased our house caucus by five, including a number of women. That bodes well for us moving forward.”

With committee assignments for the next legislative session just announced, Mascher will serve as ranking member on the State Government committee. She also will serve on the Education committee and the Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations subcommittee.

She said two things she will focus on in the upcoming term will be funding for education and halting the exodus of young people from the state.

“We aren’t doing a good job growing our own and keeping our own,” she said. “We can’t grow our economy on the backs of older people.”

Other priorities include increasing the minimum wage, improving access to child care, and establishing a mental health care program for children.

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• Once a month, Business 380 will spotlight one of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.