By Jacob Hall
John Kooiker was selected Tuesday night as the Republican candidate for the Iowa House of Representatives District 4 seat. Kooiker, a 68-year old retiree from Boyden, toted his relationship with former Rep. Dwayne Alons in a letter he sent to District 4’s precinct leaders.
“Dwayne and Clarice were neighbors, fellow members of the Wm. Monster Post 272 American Legion and of the Northwest Camp of the Gideon’s International Association,” he wrote. “Our paths crossed when Dwayne and I made omelets as cooks at the semi-annual omelet brunches put on by the Boyden American Legion and Auxiliary. The slack times afforded us informal one-on-one time for discussion of state legislative issues among other things, such as the weather, farming, children, grandchildren, and federal government antics.”
That relationship served as motivation for Kooiker after Alons died earlier this month after a short battle with cancer. Gov. Terry Branstad announced a special election to fill Alons’ seat will be held Tuesday, Jan. 6, when Kooiker will face Democrat John Buntsma of Orange City.
“Dwayne’s a good friend of mine,” Kooiker said. “We saw eye to eye on a lot of issues. Dwayne’s wife (Clarice) gave me encouragement to go ahead and see if the voters would want to continue down the same road with a person like Dwayne, such as myself, or if they wanted to have a change.”
Kooiker, who has been married to his wife Sherry for 43 years, served in the U.S. Army as a military police sentry dog handler and medical records clerk. He graduated from Kansas State with a M.A. in Math Education, taught high school math and physics at the Christian Academy in Japan and went back to Kansas State to work on a Ph. D.
He moved his family, which included four children, to the family farm in Boyden in 1975. Kooiker became a substitute rural letter carrier in July of 1977 and became a regular carrier in October of 1984. He retired from the postal service in December of 2005.
Those experiences, Kooiker said, have helped prepare him to serve in Des Moines.
“The variety of experience and expertise I’ve gained from all of my experiences have given me a lot of practical knowledge, skills and the ability to solve problems and to see things from different angles so as not to get a biased, stereotypical view of the way things should be run or done. I’ve always adjusted my thinking to trying to figure out the best way to accomplish something.”
Kooiker added he has contacted several area newspapers in an effort to reach voters in the limited amount of time he has to campaign.
“I’ve got a lot of people who have stepped up to the plate to be supporters,” he said. “I do intend, with Sen. Randy Feenstra’s help, to set up a schedule to go around from town to town and have a time and place for the general public to meet with me if they want to. Other than that, I just have to leave it in the Lord’s hands. If He wants me to be the next stage legislator from our district, then it’s time. I’m ready and willing to go where He sends me.”
Kooiker sat down with The Iowa Statesman shortly after his nomination for an exclusive interview. The full Q&A can be found by clicking here.