Government

Thomas Kedley jumps into U.S. 2nd District race

Osceola mayor is the only Republican to file for congressional race so far

The U.S. Capitol Building is seen shortly before sunset in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson
The U.S. Capitol Building is seen shortly before sunset in Washington, U.S. May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson
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CEDAR RAPIDS — School’s out, and eighth-grade history and civics teacher Thomas Kedley is hitting the campaign trail.

Kedley, who teaches in Osceola, filed paperwork in May to run for the open 2nd Congressional District seat. But he didn’t start campaigning until this week because he wanted to stay focused on his students as they finished the school year.

Kedley, 31, who is in his second term as Osceola mayor, hopes to be elected to succeed Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack, who has announced he will not seek re-election. The 24-county district stretches from the Mississippi River to Clarke County and from the Missouri border north to Johnson County.

So far, Kedley is the only Republican to file for the seat, but others have expressed interest.

Among them is former Illinois congressman Bobby Schilling, who moved to LeClaire in Scott County a few years ago. State lawmakers Chris Cournoyer of LeClaire, Mark Lofgren of Muscatine and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa have been getting mentioned.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Rita Hart of Wheatland has filed, and Scott County Supervisor Ken Croken reportedly is exploring the race.

Whether or not he faces a primary race, Kedley said he’s accustomed to challenges.

“I lived on the front line of poverty, where the American dream seemed out of reach,” Kedley said. He worked on his grandfather’s farm, and his mother worked multiple jobs to support the family.

“Friends would share their lunches, couches and pennies,” he said.

Kedley, who grew up in Clinton, credits those friends and teachers for helping him see “a glimmer of my dreams coming true.”

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They taught him “resilience and to persevere … to follow my calling to be a solution-seeker and to be a voice for others.”

As a congressman, Kedley said, his priorities would be education, agriculture and the federal budget.

As mayor, Kedley has worked to improve the quality of life for residents through recreation, updating infrastructure and securing a reliable water source.

When he was first elected mayor, Clarke County ranked 98th out of 99 counties in quality of life in health. One of his priorities has been a quality of life initiative, including a golf course, a recreation complex and a trail system.

Kedley attended Clinton Community College and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in education. He and his wife, Becca, have two sons.

According to the June voter registration report from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, there are 537,353 voters in the district — 33 percent Democrats, 28 percent Republicans and 39 percent other.

• Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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