Eight candidates vie for state seats
Tuesday, November 06, 2012 2:04 AM
Winneshiek County voters will have the chance to weigh in on two state races next Tuesday.
Decorah resident John Beard (D) will challenge Republican Michael Breitbach of Strawberry Point for the State Senate District 28 seat, which was created as the result of redistricting.
Beard, a welder and farmer, is a member of the Winneshiek County Conservation Board, a director of the Driftless Chapter of Trout Unlimited and former president of Winneshiek Pheasants Forever.
Beard, who served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 2008-10, said, "Coming out of one of the worst recessions in history, we need to rebuild our economic foundation by rebuilding the middle class."
At a recent forum at Luther College, Beard added, "We need to make lots of long-term decisions and we need to think very carefully. We must build a lasting future that can't be outsourced."
Beard's opponent, Michael Breitbach (R), is a graduate of Loras College who owns his own trucking company and is an insurance counselor for Smith Insurance.
He is a board member for the Clayton County Civil Service Commission, Farmers Savings Bank, Strawberry Homes Inc., Strawberry Point Economic Development Fund; and a member of the Iowa Bankers Association, Core Curriculum Committee for the Starmont School District, Iowa Independent Insurance Association, Iowa Motor Truck Association and Strawberry Point Lions Club.
Through his businesses, Breitbach employs 45 people.
"I know what it is like to be responsible for signing checks and providing health insurance for employees," said Breitbach.
He supports equal pay for equal work and is in favor of campaign finance reform.
State District 55
In Iowa House District 55, Michael T. Klimesh (R) of Spillville is challenging incumbent Roger Thomas (D) of Elkader.
Klimesh, a 1991 Luther graduate with a degree in political science, is the mayor of Spillville and general manager of Graphics Inc. in Calmar. He is a Board member for the Winneshiek County Community Foundation.
He said his policy as a legislator would be to "Always leave it better than you found it, and never ask someone to do something you wouldn't be prepared to do yourself."
Thomas, of Elkader, is serving his seventh term as Iowa House District representative. He is a 1996 graduate of Upper Iowa University with a degree in public administration.
He serves on the Economic Growth, Veterans, Ways and Means and Transportation Infrastructure committees.
While Thomas thinks there is always the chance of voter fraud, he doesn't believe residents should be denied the right to vote because they can't produce a photo I.D.
According to County Auditor Ben Steines, approximately 90 percent of Winneshiek County votes for Districts 28 and 55.
State District 26
Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco, a Democrat, and Merlin Bartz (R) of Grafton are running for the new District 26 Senate seat. Redistricting put the senators in the same district.
Wilhelm is founder/owner of Wilhelm Appraisers.
She has served in the Iowa Senate since 2006 and is a former Howard County Supervisor.
She serves as a member of a number of committees: Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa, Education, Human Resources and Local Government, and Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources (Joint Appropriation).
Bartz is a farmer who has served in the Iowa Senate since 2008.
He serves on the Appropriations, Human Resources, Natural Resources and Environment and Ways and Means committees.
State District 51
Republican Representative Joshua Byrnes of Osage and Democrat Eric Hungerford of Manly are the two candidates for the Iowa House of Representatives, District 51.
Byrnes, the incumbent, is seeking his second term. He serves as a committee member for the Economic Growth/Rebuild Iowa, Education, Environmental Protection, Subcommittee on Education (Joint Appropriations) and Ways and Means.
According to the Iowa House of Representatives Democratic link, Hungerford has been interested in politics from a young age, holding jobs related to campaigns and political activism. He believes our society functions best when we each do our part to move our state forward and says his decision to run for State Representative is a result of his desire to help the average Iowan bring main street values to the capitol.
Voters in the six most northwestern townships in Winneshiek County will vote for State District 26 and House District 51.
House District 1
In the race for U.S. Representative District 1, incumbent Bruce Braley (D) of Waterloo is being challenged by Ben Lange (R) of Quasqueton.
Braley, an attorney, has served on the Iowa Legal Aid Board of Directors, the Board of Waterloo Dollars for Scholars, as a volunteer mentor for Waterloo Partners in Education and the Waterloo Historic Preservation Commission.
He has served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and has become known for his work on behalf of veterans and his advocacy for strengthening the middle class and creating jobs.
Lange, also an attorney, believes in opening markets and expanding trade.
"Agriculture continues to be a cornerstone of the Iowa economy and our farmers benefit from policies that reduce the cost of doing business, preserve our proud farming culture and work ethic, open markets and expand trade, and ensure we are competing on even playing fields with other countries to allow us to continue moving toward a market-based agricultural system," he said.