Susan Bangert filed nominating papers yesterday to be the Democratic candidate in Iowa House district 8, where Dolores Mertz recently announced her retirement. House district 8 covers all of Humboldt and Pocahontas counties, plus southern Kossuth County (including Algona) and a small portion of Webster County (map here).
Bangert grew up in north-central Iowa (Forest City) and was educated in state. She works for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency as a speech pathologist in Algona, the largest town in this House district. Think how many families in the area she must have helped throughout her career.
Bangert was on the Kossuth County leadership team for Barack Obama's campaign before the Iowa caucuses, so I assume she has a good grasp of how to identify and mobilize voters. All in all, she sounds like a great candidate. It probably doesn't hurt that her husband is the Algona chief of police. UPDATE: Bleeding Heartland user natewithglasses adds that Bangert has been active in one of the largest churches in Algona, a Missouri Synod Lutheran congregation. That may bring in some cross-over votes.
House district 8 should be one of the Republicans' top pickup opportunities this year, but as I discussed last week, I think the bitter GOP primary fight could hurt the party's chances in the general. Speaking of which, Republican candidates Tom Shaw and Steven Richards are holding a debate on Thursday, April 8, at 7 pm in the Humboldt County Courthouse (203 Main St. in Dakota City). If any Bleeding Heartland reader is able to attend that debate, please post a diary about it afterward.
UPDATE: A third Republican candidate filed in this district on March 19: Alissa Wagner of Rutland. I don't know anything about her and have no idea whether a three-way primary helps Shaw or Richards.
LATE UPDATE: I posted Bangert's March 22 press release after the jump.
Educator, Community Leader Announces Bid
for State Representative in District 8
Algona, Iowa - Educator and community activist Susan Bangert of Algona announced today that she will seek election to House District 8, which covers Kossuth, Humboldt, Pocahontas, and part of Webster Counties.
"In these tough economic times, I understand how critical it is for us to help middle class families and small businesses in our communities. We need to create good-paying jobs and keep focused on Iowa's renewable energy economy to strengthen Iowa's agricultural economy," said Bangert. "As a former small business owner myself, I understand both the challenges and rewards of operating a successful business."
Bangert has owned and operated Great Minds Learning Center in Algona. She is currently a speech pathologist at Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency and helps students in school districts across Kossuth County. She has also worked with patients at Kossuth Regional Medical Center helping stroke patients regain their speech.
"Like many in our community, my story is truly an American dream. The daughter of a World War II veteran with eight brothers and sisters, I am a proud product of Iowa's strong education system," said Bangert. "After helping students succeed in the classroom for over 30 years, I know that Iowans of all political stripes care deeply about the education of kids and grandkids."
Bangert has lived in Algona for over 30 years with her husband, Kevin, who is the police chief in Algona. She is a member of the Morwens Kiwanis Club, co-president of the American Association of University Women, and attends Trinity Lutheran Church, where she has taught Sunday school. She is also member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and the Iowa State Education Association.
"I'm running for State Representative to bring people together and keep our state a wonderful place to live and work. Iowans expect us to put politics aside, listen, and do what's best for our state. We must balance the budget without raising taxes and help revitalize rural Iowa with good-paying jobs," concluded Bangert. "I can promise the people of District 8 that I will always listen to their concerns and work hard to earn their trust and respect."
Bangert was born and raised in Forest City, graduated from the University of Iowa, and received her master's degree in speech pathology from Truman State University. She and her husband have three children and one granddaughter.