OTTUMWA, Iowa – On Thursday evening, Republicans nominated Packwood businessman Adrian Dickey, and Democrats nominated retired Ottumwa educator Mary Stewart to run in the special election in Iowa Senate District 41. The seat was left vacant due to Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ election to Congress. The district makes up parts of Wapello and Jefferson counties and all of Davis and Van Buren counties.
Last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds set the special election date for Tuesday, January 26, 2021. In the case of a vacancy during the legislative session, Iowa law allows an abbreviated election period requiring the Governor to give a minimum of 18 days’ notice.
Dickey is the president of Dickey Transport; he joined his family’s business, starting with washing trucks and sweeping floors. He serves on the Iowa Motor Truck Association board and has been a volunteer firefighter for over 29 years. He is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Fairfield and has two children. Dickey said he was recruited by the Republican Party of Iowa to run.
During his speech at the special nomination convention, Dickey said he wants to raise the tax credit for volunteer firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement from $100 to $1000.
Dickey also highlighted his support for the Constitution, including religious liberty. He supports constitutional carry. Dickey wants to see Iowa’s 99 percent spending cap added to the Iowa Constitution. He also advocated term limits, pledging to serve no more than two terms.
He told The Iowa Torch that if elected, he wants to build on the conservative principles that the Iowa Senate Republicans have implemented over the last few years, being in the majority.
Former State Senator Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, who stepped down in 2018, also ran for the nomination, citing what he saw as the coming assault on states’ rights and sovereignty. The credentialed delegates selected Dickey over Chelgren by an almost three to one margin.
“I’m honored to have the support of the delegates,” Dickey said later in a released statement. “I look forward to working with them to retain this seat and continue to push for limited government, lower taxes and more career opportunities in southeast Iowa.”
Democrats, in their special nominating convention, selected Stewart, who ran unsuccessfully against Miller-Meeks in 2018, over former Wapello County Supervisor Steve Siegal, who ran unsuccessfully against Chelgren for the seat in 2014.
Stewart taught at Indian Hills Community College for over 33 years before retiring.
“Southern Iowans deserve better leaders at the Iowa Capitol. Des Moines has ignored us for too long. The result has been fewer opportunities for job training, affordable health care, accessible child care, and a stronger economy on Main Street. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that Southern Iowans don’t have the same services that are available in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, including basic testing, high-speed internet, and programs for workers and employers hit hard by the pandemic,” Stewart said in a released statement.
According to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, Democrats currently hold a slight voter registration edge over Republicans – 13,343 to 12,879. There are 10,841 “no party” voters in the district as well. The district is trending Republican, with Republicans holding the area’s State Senate seat (previously Senate District 47) since 2011. In November, State Rep. Mary Gaskill, D-Ottumwa, lost her race to Republican challenger Cherielynn Westrich of Ottumwa in Iowa House District 81.