# Janice Weiner



Iowa legislature may be more diverse after 2022 election

Iowans may elect more people from under-represented populations to the state legislature in 2022, Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of the primary and general election candidate filings indicates.

One barrier will certainly be broken: as the only candidate to file in House district 78, Democrat Sami Scheetz will become the first Arab American to serve in our state legislature.

The lawmakers who convene at the statehouse next January may also include Iowa’s first Jewish legislator in nearly three decades as well as more people of color, more LGBTQ people, and the first Paralympian.

A forthcoming post will discuss prospects for electing more women to the Iowa House and Senate.

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New blood from Iowa City coming soon to legislature

Voters in Iowa’s bluest city will elect at least two new state lawmakers next year. State Senator Joe Bolkcom announced on November 4 that he will not seek another term in 2022. First elected in 1998, Bolkcom said in a message to constituents and supporters that it’s “time to rotate the crops” and “bring new ideas and new energy to solving problems facing working people and our communities.”

His decision creates an open seat in Iowa Senate district 45, covering Iowa City and University Heights. One of the House districts contained in Bolkcom’s district will also be open, since State Representative Christina Bohannan is running for Congress rather than for re-election.

The other half of Bolkcom’s district is represented by Mary Mascher, a Democrat first elected to the Iowa House in 1994. Asked whether she plans to run for the Senate, seek re-election, or retire in 2022, Mascher told Bleeding Heartland on November 4, “I am still weighing my options.” UPDATE: Mascher announced on November 8 that she won’t run for the House again.

I expect crowded Democratic primaries next June for every open legislative district in the Iowa City area. The primary is the deciding election here, as Republicans have no chance and rarely even field candidates in this part of Johnson County. If Mascher runs for Senate, she would be the front-runner in a primary but probably would not clear the field. Bohannan’s victory over long-serving State Representative Vicki Lensing in the 2020 primary showed that many Democrats in the area are willing to support new legislators.

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First look at Iowa's new House, Senate maps in cities, suburbs

Now that Iowa’s political maps for the next decade have been finalized, it’s time to look more closely at the district lines in and near larger metro areas. Although most districts anchored in cities are safe for Democrats, these metros will include quite a few battleground Iowa House and Senate races over the next two election cycles. Several “micropolitan” districts containing mid-sized cities remain competitive as well, and a forthcoming post will cover those maps.

I’ll write more about the political landscape of individual House or Senate districts once lawmakers and other contenders have confirmed their plans for next year. Several incumbent match-ups have already been worked out, and I’m continuing to update this post. (Please send tips on candidate announcements.)

I’ve grouped each Iowa Senate district with the two state House districts it wholly contains.

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Why the rush to change Iowa's election law?

Janice Weiner is a community activist and city council member in Iowa City. The Iowa Senate approved an amended version of this bill, which cuts early voting in many ways, along party lines on February 23. A forthcoming Bleeding Heartland post will discuss those changes in detail. -promoted by Laura Belin

The draft bill aimed at fixing voting problems that don’t exist, which is moving through the Iowa legislature at breakneck speed, galvanized me to speak out. We had only two minutes each for public comment at the February 22 public hearing. This is the original slightly longer version of my remarks:

I come at this from many directions.

During my 26 years as a U.S. diplomat, I served places where people literally risked their lives to vote. When I spoke with them, I held up my home state as a shining example of making it easy to exercise the franchise.

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Celebrating Easter, Passover in a pandemic

Most Christians (aside from those in the Orthodox Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses) are celebrating Easter today, and Jews all over the world are in the middle of the Passover festival. But the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted holiday celebrations along with almost every other aspect of normal life.

Many Iowa houses of worship have adapted by live-streaming services or broadcasting them on radio frequencies congregants can hear from cars parked outside the building.

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A decision made with head and heart for Amy Klobuchar

Janice Weiner is a city council member in Iowa City and a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer. -promoted by Laura Belin

I’m someone who makes decisions with a combination of head and heart. I learned during my Foreign Service career that I needed both, and I applied that when considering the impressive field of Democratic presidential candidates. Do they speak to me personally? Do their policies make sense? We in Iowa are so fortunate to have this opportunity – not just to see candidates at a rally and read their platforms and policies – but to get to know them as people. And they us, as well.

Like so many others, I trekked to events for countless candidates. Last May, as a part of that process, I attended the Klobuchar campaign’s mental health/addiction panel in Iowa City, screwed up my courage, and told the senator my story. I’m a retired Foreign Service Officer, and I’m raising my granddaughter because my daughter cannot, because of her struggles with dual diagnosis – mental health and addiction, rolled into one. We are not unique – how I wish we were.

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