Government

Iowa Senate District 30 special election set for March 19

Sen. Jeff Danielson at his desk at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Sen. Jeff Danielson at his desk at the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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WATERLOO — The special election to replace Sen. Jeff Danielson for Iowa Senate District 30 is scheduled for March 19.

Gov. Kim Reynold’s announced the date on Monday, one day before the deadline.

Danielson resigned Thursday from the Iowa Senate and from his job as a Cedar Falls firefighter for a new position he won’t yet comment on.

Iowa Senate District 30 includes Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Hudson.

The Black Hawk County Democratic Party will hold a special convention to choose a candidate at 10 a.m. Saturday in Waterloo. The county GOP will hold a convention Monday for Republican Central Committee members at Upper Iowa University.

Former House Rep. Walt Rogers is considering running in the special election but is talking to his family first, he said. Rogers challenged Danielson in 2008, losing by 22 votes. Rogers went on to win a seat in the Iowa House. He lost that seat in November to Dave Williams.

Independent candidates can be nominated by petition. The deadline for filing is March 5.

During a Democratic candidate forum on Sunday, a group of four prospective candidates made their case for why they should replace Danielson for Iowa Senate District 30.

The candidates included Amy Petersen, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa; Tom Ralston, a union leader and employee of John Deere; and Eric Giddens and Sasha Wohlpart, both members of the Cedar Falls school board.

The candidates answered questions about health care, water quality and education.

Petersen said many have asked why she’s running.

“In the last several years I’ve spent a lot of time in leadership roles,” Petersen said. “I have contributions to make, and more importantly I can win. I do not make this statement lightly or from a place of arrogance or ego.”

Wohlpart took a different approach, highlighting her work with legislators on environment and education.

“These are my two passions,” Wohlpart said. “I served as a high school science teacher for many years and then as a faculty member at a university teaching environmental science and geology.”

With a union background, Ralston focused more on the plight of workers.

“We need to stand up for the working class,” Ralston said. “I left college with a student loan debt that I was unable to pay.”

His job at John Deere allowed him to pay off his loans eventually and buy a house, he said.

“The reason I’m running is for too long the middle class, the working class and the bottom parts of society have been forgotten by our government,” Ralston said.

With solid knowledge of the issues at hand, Giddens had a detailed answer for every question.

“I’ve worked with city government (and) county government,” he said.

Libertarian candidate Fred Perryman announced his candidacy to The Courier via email.

“We have an opportunity to represent our district with a candidate that respects the rights of all citizens regardless of which party we affiliate with,” he wrote.” I believe I am that candidate.”

Democratic Iowa Rep. Bob Kressig, whose district includes Cedar Falls, said he is not running.

“I didn’t run because I think our chances in the House are better at being a majority, and I’d love to be in the majority again,” he said.

Including Danielson’s seat, Republicans have a majority in the Iowa Senate, 32-18.

“This seat is critical for us to maintain,” Kressig said.

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