DES MOINES, Iowa – State Rep. Brett Siegrist, R-Council Bluffs, was sworn in last week as the new representative for Iowa House District 16, replacing State Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs, who did not run for re-election.
While Siegrist is a new addition to the current Iowa House Republican caucus, he is not new to the Iowa House of Representatives. In fact, he once led the chamber. He served in the Iowa House from 1984 to 2002, and for ten of those years, he served as House Majority Leader and Speaker of the House before retiring from politics for 18 years.
Siegrist also taught for 18 years and served as executive director for the Iowa Area Education Agency from 2003 until his retirement in 2018. He served Iowa PBS/IPTV Board of Directors for 12 years and the Iowa Western Community College Board of Trustees for 17 years, where he was president of the board before resigning to serve in the Iowa House.
He has been married to Valerie, a nurse, for 30 years, and they have two children, Robert, an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, and Harriet, a senior at Loras College in Dubuque.
Having served 18 years in the Iowa House before, why did he run for office again?
“I ran for House District 16 to make a difference. This district is a very purple seat with voter registration showing a slight edge for Republicans, and my previous experience and results were helpful in keeping the seat in Republican hands,” Siegrist told The Iowa Torch. The Democrats spent over $500,000 to win the seat, but in the end, the Republican message won out. I ran to make sure that we fund our priorities in education, workforce development, broadband access, and quality of life issues while maintaining a balanced budget and reducing the tax burden.”
Siegrist defeated the Democrat nominee, Jen Pelland, by 5.6 percent in November, 50.7 percent (6,615) to 45.1 percent (5,889).
He noted that he learned a few things while campaigning the last cycle.
“I learned that people were pretty grumpy this campaign cycle. I didn’t knock on near as many doors as I wanted to, but people were receptive at the door. I learned that they are fed up with the divisive nature of politics at the federal, state, and local levels. They are also pretty divided. As I mentioned, my district is purple, and you could tell that going door to door. However, with only a couple of exceptions, people were very nice,” Siegrist said.
He noted that education and in-person learning was an issue he heard about frequently and the state’s response to COVID-19.
“My priorities will be to continue to help the economy and the state recover from the pandemic. I want to make sure we adequately fund our priorities in education and workforce development,” Siegrist told The Iowa Torch.
“I think the pandemic made it clear we need to continue to expand our internet access and also address housing shortages. Lastly, the pandemic showed us how important quality of life issues are to our citizens, and we need to continue to improve our recreational opportunities across Iowa. And we can do this with a balanced budget and also looking for areas to reduce taxes,” he added.
Siegrist was elected Assistant House Majority Leader by the House Republican caucus and was assigned as vice chair for the Administration and Rules and Local Government committees. He will also serve on the Natural Resources, State Government, and Transportation committees, and he will also serve on the Education Appropriations Subcommittee.