I had a feeling this open seat would prove too tempting for just one Democrat. Abbie Weipert announced at the Johnson County Democratic Convention on March 12 that she will run for Iowa House district 77. North Liberty Mayor Amy Nielsen declared her candidacy a few weeks ago, hours after Democratic State Representative Sally Stutsman made her retirement plans public.
Weipert's campaign is on the web here and on Facebook here. I enclose below the statement she released today as well as information about her experience and and political priorities. Scroll to the end of this post for a map of House district 77, which includes North Liberty, Tiffin, Oxford, and other areas in western and southern Johnson County.
Bleeding Heartland will not endorse a candidate in this primary. Nielsen, Weipert, or others supporting their campaigns are welcome to post guest commentaries here. Before writing, please read the site guidelines on advocating for Democratic candidates.
Republicans Paula Dreeszen and Royce Phillips are also seeking to represent House district 77. The winner of the Democratic primary will be favored in the general election. House district 77 contains 7,736 active registered Democrats, 5,681 Republicans, and 7,070 no-party voters, according to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. President Barack Obama won more than 58 percent of the vote here in 2012, and Bruce Braley outpolled Joni Ernst by 9 points in the district despite the 2014 Republican wave.
Final note: I sincerely appreciate Stutsman's sense of fair play in letting her constituents know last month that she did not plan to seek re-election. Iowa has an unfortunate bipartisan tradition of state lawmakers waiting until a day or two before the filing deadline to announce their retirement. That tactic allows insiders to hand-pick a replacement without giving other politically active people time to consider running for the open seat.
UPDATE: Forgot to add that the Iowa House Democrats sent out Nielsen's campaign announcement. At this writing, the have not sent Weipert's press release, which suggests that party insiders favor Nielsen.
SECOND UPDATE: I sought comment from Weipert on whether she was active in any of the presidential campaigns before the Iowa caucuses. She was a precinct captain for Hillary Clinton in Clear Creek Amana. Nielsen and Stutsman were also active Clinton supporters.
March 14 press release from Abbie Weipert:
Abbie Weipert announces her candidacy as a Democrat for Iowa House District 77. The district covers southern and western Johnson County, including the towns of Lone Tree, Tiffin, Oxford, North Liberty, Swisher, and Shueyville.
A life-long resident of Johnson County, she and her husband Travis have lived in Tiffin for over eight years, where her younger brothers attend Clear Creek Amana High School. After graduating from West High in Iowa City, Abbie went on to earn a finance degree and an MBA from The University of Iowa. She currently manages financial planning for Kirkwood Community College.
Weipert's role at Kirkwood and her participation in the Iowa State University Community College Leadership Institute are part of why she is running for Iowa House. She understands the need for strong education, not only at the community college level, but for K-12 as well. She has heard first-hand from state and community college leaders regarding concerns for Iowa’s schools.
Weipert states, "As Representative I will work to prioritize the budget and increase funding for all levels of education, regardless of district size. All students should have equal opportunity for success in this state. I will also work to expand and enhance workforce training opportunities to ensure Iowa’s workers can meet the demands of our economy and we keep jobs in Iowa." She goes on to say, “As your representative, I will be transparent, inclusive, and accountable to our district in order to bring concerns to the capital and work with other legislators to move Iowa forward.”
Weipert looks forward to addressing other concerns at the capital, including challenging the privatization Medicaid, preserving access to women’s healthcare options, and advocating for the aging and disabled populations. She will make clear her concerns for the environment by supporting renewable energy and addressing water quality issues.
Weipert is an annual volunteer at financial literacy fairs for middle schoolers and participates in mock interview training with new graduates. She was an active supporter the Johnson County Community ID program and of the minimum wage increase.
You can reach Abbie Weipert by phone 319-321-7159, email email@example.com, or visit her website at abbieweipert.com.
Biographical information from Weipert's campaign website
A Fierce Advocate for Our Community in House District 77
Abbie was born in Iowa City at Mercy Hospital to Sherry Ferguson on April 21st, 1985. Sherry is a long-time University of Iowa employee and proud member of the AFSCME union. Abbie’s grandparents, Jerry and Sylvia Ferguson of Tipton, Iowa, have been instrumental in forming her values from their careers as life-long educators and roles as deeply supportive family leaders. Abbie also has twin brothers who attend Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin.
Abbie attended Coralville and Iowa City schools, graduating from West High in 2003. Active in Business Professionals of America in high school, she pursued a Finance degree from the University of Iowa. Abbie interned in the business communication and writing center and volunteered in conversation groups with English-acquisition students in college.
After graduating four years later in 2007, Abbie began working at Transamerica where she met her husband, Travis Weipert. Travis has played a key role in continuing to foster the appeal of community involvement and politics for Abbie through his work as Tiffin City Councilman and now Johnson County Auditor. Abbie has been an active supporter in the progress toward a fair minimum wage in Johnson County and a proponent of the Community ID program. Together for eight years, married for over two, Travis and Abbie are also supporters of domestic animal issues and currently are bossed around by two Chihuahuas and two cats in their Tiffin home.
At Transamerica Abbie contributed to an international system implementation project and on a global derivative pricing team. She also has experience working on The University of Iowa Hospitals budget planning team. During this time, Abbie is proud to have earned her MBA from Iowa’s Tippie School of Management while working full time. A delicate balancing act of family, career, and education that many in the area face.
Abbie currently works at Kirkwood Community College managing the financial planning function. Abbie strives to ensure the pressure of individual departmental financial management does not detract from the critical focus on student success. As an acknowledgment of her efforts, Abbie was recently awarded the League of Innovation’s Roueche Award for Excellence by the academic leadership of Kirkwood. Abbie also volunteers with students including financial literacy fairs with middle schoolers in the area, mock interviews with new graduates, and sharing her story in the classroom with business students.
In September 2015, Abbie was selected to participate in Iowa State University’s Community College Leadership Institute with representatives from the other Iowa community colleges. This unique opportunity has provided Abbie with the opportunity to hear from college leadership their concerns about the future of state funding and affordable college programs and workforce development training.
House district 77 covers much of western and southern Johnson County, including the cities of North Liberty, Oxford, Tiffin, Swisher, and Shueyville.