Former Newton Mayor Chaz Allen running in Iowa Senate district 15

Only a few hours after State Senator Dennis Black confirmed plans to retire, former Newton Mayor Chaz Allen announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination in Iowa Senate district 15. Allen has strong business connections as executive director of the Jasper County Economic Development Corporation and as a board member of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. After the jump I’ve posted Allen’s campaign announcement, which contains more background on the candidate. Former Governor Chet Culver appointed him to the Rebuild Iowa Office’s task force on Infrastructure and Transportation, and he also served on Governor Terry Branstad’s Commercial Property Tax Review Committee three years ago.

Iowa Senate district 15 covers most of Jasper County and some eastern areas in Polk County. Click here for a map and the latest voter registration numbers in the Democratic-leaning district.

I am seeking comment from Iowa House Democrat Dan Kelley, who represents the eastern half of this Senate district. I will update this post when I can confirm whether Kelley will run for the Iowa Senate or seek a third term as state representative.

So far the lone Republican candidate to file in Senate district 15 is Crystal Bruntz. Her campaign is on Facebook here and on the web here. I’ve posted her official bio below.

Iowa Senate Majority Fund press release, March 10:

Former Mayor, Economic Developer Chaz Allen announces bid for Iowa Senate

NEWTON – Chaz Allen, the former Mayor of Newton and current Executive Director of the Jasper County Economic Development Corporation (JEDCO) has announced plans to run for the Iowa Senate in District 15. District 15 includes most of Jasper County, except the cities of Lynnville, Monroe, Reasnor and Sully and eastern Polk County, including the cities of Altoona, Carlisle, Bondurant, Elkhart, Mitchellville and Runnells.

“I have spent more than a decade working to bring businesses and jobs to this Senate District,” Allen said. “Working closely with the Board at JEDCO and involving local, regional and state governments in the decision making, our region has been proactive towards economic development. Everyone works together to get things done. I hope to be given the chance to bring this collaborative approach to the Iowa Senate.”

Re-elected four times as Mayor, Allen helped lead Newton through a challenging economic transition after the closure of the Maytag facilities. As Mayor, Allen led the local response to the closure. He coordinated efforts with Iowa’s congressional delegation to make a request for assistance to the Bush Administration. This led to federal assistance for education and retraining for impacted Maytag workers.

Allen added: “During my time as mayor, Newton went through an economic transition, from a company town dominated by the Maytag Corporation to a diverse economy focused on renewable energy, motorsports entertainment, research development and education.”

“Times were tough-they still are for a lot of families,” Allen said. “But we banded together as a community to face the challenges of a major plant closure. By diversifying our local economy, we created a job market that not only put a lot of people back to work, but also gave Newton and the surrounding communities a lot more economic security for our future.” Under Allen’s watch, Newton became the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2010 Sustainable City of the year.

Chaz Allen is 43. A Democrat, he grew up in Chariton, Iowa and has lived in Newton with his wife Teri for 14 years. They have two daughters, Morgan, 15 and Madeline, 12. The family attends First Lutheran Christian Church in Newton.

In addition to his service as Newton Mayor and his professional career with JEDCO, Allen serves on the Board of Directors of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and on The Mid Iowa Development Fund. Allen has also served two Iowa Governors: in 2009 with Governor Culver’s Rebuild Iowa Office on their Task Force for Infrastructure and Transportation and on Governor Branstad’s 2011 Commercial Property Tax Review Committee. Allen graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Finance.

“Teri and I raised our family in this community and we care a great deal about the future of this region,” Allen said. “If I’m fortunate enough to be elected to the Senate, I will work hard every day to bring good jobs, improve our schools and sustain safe and vibrant communities in District 15. I’d love to hear from the people here how we can do this together. Anybody can call or email me if they have an idea, a question or a concern at chazallen4senate@gmail.com or (641) 521-6297.”

Bullet points from bio page of Republican candidate Crystal Bruntz’s website:

Lifelong Iowan

Born and raised near Ames

Attended public school in Nevada

Accounting degree from Central College

Masters in Business from Drake University

Married to Jordan Bruntz for 24 years

Two children – Joshua and Caitlyn

Maytag employee 1988 to 1993

Pioneer Hi-Bred employee 1993 to 2011

Kum&Go employee 2012 to present

Work experiece in audit, tax, and human resources

Attend Evangelical Free Church of Baxter

Volunteer AWANA leader, basketball and soccer coach

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