One of the candidates for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s former seat in the Iowa Senate who wasn’t selected at the Republican Party’s special nominating convention last month is very likely going to the Statehouse anyway.
David Sieck, 57, of rural Glenwood won a GOP special nominating convention Friday to be placed on the ballot for the Iowa House District 23 special election that will be held Tuesday, Feb. 10. He defeated Keith Johnson of Mineola by a nearly 3-to-1 margin on the first ballot of the convention.
Having worked with the legislature on a number of issues over the years as a former president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, as a member of Farm Bureau, and as a member of Responsible River Management, a group that works on Missouri River management issues, he felt he had experience and insight that would be valuable to discussions in the General Assembly.
“So, when Joni decided to move up, it looked like a good opportunity to try to run myself,” he said. “I had a lot of support and encouragement from my family, and from friends, so I threw my name in late in the game (for Ernst’s former Iowa Senate seat) to get my name out there.”
Sieck, who farms and sells real estate, participated in a candidate forum hosted by KMA Radio in Shenandoah just before the Iowa Senate District 12 special nominating convention. Three days later, he made it through three rounds of voting, but came up a little short to then-state Rep. Mark Costello, who was representing HD 23 at the time, and another candidate who did not live in HD 23.
After Costello resigned his House seat to be sworn in as a senator, it provided a new opportunity for Sieck to seek public office. He said he not only had the support of family and friends, but of other Republicans in HD 23, which consists of all of Fremont and Mills counties, and the northern two-thirds of Montgomery County.
“One of the things I see is that all of these government mandates and regulations all wind up pushing down on us locally, on businesses, farms, counties, and cities,” he said. “As a result, we’re losing things out here … Hopefully, I can go there (to Des Moines) to help make decisions that will relieve that downward pressure.”
Transportation funding is a big issue to HD 23 constituents, Sieck said. He said he’s hopeful to find a balance between those who are concerned about a gas tax increase and the counties who having to use bonding authority to pay for road improvements.
Access to broadband Internet service in rural areas is another concern he hopes to address. He said many smaller communities are losing businesses to larger cities because they do not have the technological infrastructure they need to compete.
Sieck also said he is concerned about the impact the state’s comprehensive property tax relief plan will have on smaller, rural counties. He said that some county officials he has spoken with have indicated taxpayers may wind up with tax increases in 2016 as a result.
“I’m opposed to big government – to making government bigger,” he said. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘never,’ but I would only be in favor of raising taxes if it was absolutely necessary as a matter of last of resort.”
Sieck is opposed to infringements on the Second Amendment, and he said he thought it was wrong that courts – not the voters – decided the issue of gay marriage in Iowa. He said he is strongly pro-life “from conception to natural death,” and would be open to a personhood amendment, but would want to carefully look at the proposed legislation before giving it a thumb’s up or down.
“As they say, the devil is in the details with some of these bills,” he said. “I think it’s important to read them thoroughly to know exactly what it is they are trying to accomplish.”
Republicans hold a huge advantage, in terms of active registered voters, in the district. Republicans make up 48.6 percent of the active registered voters, while Democrats make up only 19.3 percent of the active registered voters.
In last November’s general election, there was no Democratic challenger to Costello. The Iowa Democratic Party has not yet announced a nominating convention to put forward a candidate, and must do so by tomorrow to get a candidate on the official ballot.
Still, Sieck said he is not taking the special election’s outcome for granted.
“I’m trying to get up to speed with everything that is going on in the legislature, though,” he said. “But, more than anything, I want to make sure I represent the core values of the people of the district. That’s who you answer to.”