(Undated) -- The retirement of a veteran lawmaker has created a race for a southwest Iowa legislative seat.
After four decades in the Iowa Legislature, Hubert Houser is not running for reelection in the State Senate's 11th District. Covering 2,200 square miles, the district includes all of Adams and Union counties, 3/4ths of Cass County, plus most of Pottawattamie County, except for Carter Lake and 90% of Council Bluffs. Two candidates have filed nomination papers to run for the district's Republican nomination in the June primary.
Art Hill of Council Bluffs has 35 years as a certified public accountant. An Air Force veteran, Hill spent 25 years in the hotel and casino management business until 2003, when he went to work for an Omaha Catholic church. He became Council Bluffs Lewis Central's director of finance in 2006. Two years later, Hill became finance director for the city of Council Bluffs--a job he still holds.
In his career, Hill says he's been interested in legislative issues--even sitting in on some Statehouse rule making and licensing hearings during his casino management years.
"When I went to work for Lewis Central, that got us involved in school finance issues, and financial aid formulas," Hill said. "That kind of pulled me closer to it. Here with the city, it's not just dealing with financial issues, but there's a lot of legislative issues that come up dealing with home rule. Red light camera issues come to mind."
Hill decided to run for the legislature after the state's redistricting process in 2010. He says it was also time for a career change.
"I'm going to retire from the city one way or the other at the end of this year," he said. "I said, 'looks like it's a perfect time for me to take this experience I've been getting all around the legislative issues, and go to the core of it, and run for the Senate.'"
Hill adds that none of the 150 legislators at the Statehouse have his CPA experience. If elected, Hill says his main goal to keep Iowa strong from a fiscal standpoint.
"I'd like to make sure Iowa stays strong, economically," said Hill. "We're in a good position right now by not spending more than we're taking in. The leadership the Branstad Administration has demonstrated on fiscal years over the last handful of years has been good."
Tom Shipley of Nodaway is an Iowa State University graduate. After spending three years as a vocational agriculture instructor with the Fremont-Mills School District, he joined Land O'Lake's feed division, working with grain elevators in Stanton, Villisca, Clarinda and Red Oak. He then served as a legislative liaison for the Iowa Cattleman's Association before rejoining Land O'Lakes as a beef specialist. It's that rural background--and Houser's retirement--that prompted Shipley to seek a legislative seat.
"The rural voice of Iowa needs to be heard," Shipley said. "As the demographics in Iowa change, we're losing more representation to urban areas. I think someone needs to be speak up for rural people--someone who has experience and background in that area."
One of Shipley's main goals is to create jobs in Iowa's rural sector, in order to halt the flight of young people from the state.
"We've done a fantastic job of creating our most exportable commodity, and that's young people," he said. "We do a great job of educating them, giving them a work ethic--then they leave. Many of those--in conversations with them and their families--a lot of those people would love to be back in our part of the world to raise their family. But, you've got to have a good job to do it."
No candidate filed nomination papers to run for the Democratic nomination.