Iowa Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls firefighter and one of 18 Democrats in the state Senate, said in a television interview Thursday he was resigning both positions immediately.
In the interview, he told NBC affiliate KWWL-TV that his departure was directly tied to an ongoing controversy over that city’s cross-training of Cedar Falls police officers to serve as firefighters.
“The situation has gotten so bad I have to leave,” Danielson told KWWL.
The firefighters union has been fighting the city program that started three years ago. The city of Cedar Falls has said the “public safety officer” program quickly increases it capacity to deploy more firefighters to a scene. The union says the plan raises safety questions and says the city should instead concentrate on hiring more firefighters.
According to a report in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, at least eight firefighters have left the department since September.
Danielson did not tell the TV station why he felt the need to resign from the Senate in addition to the department. Not did he elaborate in a comments to the Iowa Starting Line political blog.
“I would not be leaving the Senate if I were not leaving the firehouse,” he told Starting Line.
A special election, which has not been set yet, will have to be called to replace him.
Danielson, who lives in Waterloo, was first elected to the Iowa Senate in 2004. He received a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Northern Iowa, which was in his district.
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In 2017, he said he was considering running against then-U.S. Rep. Rod Blum in 2018, but did not. Democrat Abby Finkenauer, an Iowa state representative, did, however, and won.