Iverson not seeking re-election

On the night Stewart Iverson lost that leadership election to Mary Lundby, I asked him if he was going to run for re-election.  He said he didn’t know.  During the last week of the session, I asked Iverson if he was running for re-election and he said "yes."  This morning, Iverson announced he would not be running for re-election in November.  I talked to him this morning — you can read the news story at RadioIowa.com. Here’s the statement Iverson issues this morning:

I was an unlikely person to seek election to the Iowa General Assembly.  Born and raised in Dows, partisan public office never crossed my mind.  Growing up, I busied myself with farm chores, football, and mischief.  I joined the Marine Corps after high 2 ½ years of college and found myself stationed in the warm California sun, which provided a new atmosphere far from Iowa winters and small town life.  With the addition of a wife and children, responsibility reared its head and I soon determined that raising crops and kids in Iowa would provide the kind of independent life I was seeking.

Shortly after my return home, friends and neighbors urged me to run for the school board.  Education has always been a top priority of mine and in 15 years on the Dows School Board I learned it takes more than money to educate children.  Teachers are essential to quality education but most importantly parents have the biggest influence on their kids.  Parents send the message on how important education is to success in life and that’s what I’ve preached for years.

In 1989, after little thought, I jumped into a 9 way Republican nominating convention to fill the vacant statehouse seat of then-Republican leader Del Stromer.  That move, began my 17 year career in the Iowa Statehouse.  Now, I believe, it’s time to begin a new chapter in my life.

I will not be seeking re-election to my senate seat this fall.

As a conservative in a sometimes not-so-conservative atmosphere, I’ve held firm to a philosophy of less government.  In 1997, I was the Senate leader who pushed through a 10% income tax cut for Iowa families.  We actually gave money back to Iowans.  In those days the state had a huge budget surplus and I thought it was criminal not to return that money to overtaxed Iowans.

Shortly afterwards, I was proud to lead the way in eliminating the state inheritance tax for lineal descendents.  My father paid taxes on his farmland for years and when it was time to pass that land down to the kids, it was taxed again.  That’s just wrong – and I was proud to eliminate the “double tax”.

Like any venture, there are some jobs left undone.  Our property tax system needs overhauled.  We have more government than our property tax system can sustain and the commercial taxpayers are hit the hardest.  Major reform is needed and unless it’s done we will continue to lose good-paying jobs. 

My service in the Iowa General Assembly, especially my time as Senate Majority Leader, will be some of the most fond memories in my life.  Despite some ground-breaking legislative victories, my personal life struck both highs and lows. 

I became a grandfather during my years in the Senate and grandkids serve as a reminder of what’s really important in life.  My first wife Jean lost a battle with cancer and the prayers and thoughts of all Iowans gave me strength during that time.  They say ‘God works in mysterious ways’ and He blessed me with a new partner, Vicki, and I’m so fortunate she agreed to join me for the rest of my life.

In closing, we truly live in a remarkable country.  Only in America can a farm kid from Dows travel the globe speaking with foreign leaders, work with some of the most influential business leaders in the country, and meet with the President of the United States.  Serving the public is truly a sacred honor and allowing me to represent you has been my privilege.  The friendships I have made will live in my heart forever.  Finally, I urge all Iowans to consider public service.  Iowa is too great of a state for small dreams.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.