Conventions will decide candidates for race to fill Senate District 41

Mary Stewart
Mary Stewart

FAIRFIELD — The Democratic and Republican parties in Iowa’s Senate District 41 will select a candidate to represent their party during a pair of special conventions Thursday night.

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks won a narrow victory over Democrat Rita Hart in the U.S. House District 2 race, meaning she had to vacate her seat as representative of Iowa Senate District 41, which covers all of Davis and Van Buren counties and portions of Wapello and Jefferson counties, including the cities of Ottumwa and Fairfield.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds called a special election to fill Miller-Meeks’s seat on Jan. 26. Thus far, two Democrats have announced a desire to fill the seat, Mary Stewart and Steve Siegel. Stewart ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 2018. Siegel is a former Wapello County supervisor.

Stewart said she is running because she believes “Iowans deserve better leaders in the capitol.”

“Southern Iowans aren’t asking for a handout,” she began. “We simply want our fair share. We want jobs that pay a living wage, schools that have the resources they need to make our kids successful, hospitals that aren’t threatened with closing and quality medical care.”

Jefferson County Democratic Party chair Susie Drish said the Democrats’ convention will be held virtually. She said the only people who will vote in it are the members of the party’s Central Committee elected during the 2020 caucuses. Only the representatives of the precincts in Jefferson County that are part of Senate District 41, which is roughly the western two-thirds of the county, can participate. This means that 17 people from Jefferson County will be able to vote at the convention. Drish herself lives just 600 feet outside the district.

Because of the quick turnaround from the time the candidates are chosen until the election, Drish encourages voters to vote early at the Jefferson County Courthouse to ensure their vote is counted.

Trudy Caviness, chair of the Wapello County Republican Party and a member of the state Central Committee, said three people have inquired about running for the seat. As of Wednesday, no one had confirmed they were running. She said the Republican convention will be at the Bible Baptist Church in Ottumwa.