Sweeney, Freese set for special election showdown

Robert Maharry

Confirming what many had suspected, former Republican State Representative Annette Sweeney of rural Alden officially announced her intention to run for a state senate seat vacated by the sudden resignation of Majority Leader Bill Dix on Wednesday morning, setting up a District 25 special election clash with Democrat Tracy Freese of Dike.
Sweeney, a cattle and grain farmer by trade, had been serving as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Director of Rural Development in Iowa for the last four months after President Donald Trump appointed her in November, and she resigned from that position Tuesday afternoon. Since losing a 2012 primary to current State Representative Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford) as a result of redistricting, she felt an itch to return to office someday.
“My heart and soul is here in central Iowa,” she said. “So I said, let’s do this.”
During a Wednesday morning interview, Sweeney admitted that the whirlwind sequence of events leading up to her candidacy had caught her a bit off guard, and she isn’t fully up to speed on specific policy issues at the state level. She added that she did not wish to comment on her opponent and knew little about her at this point.
Because of the circumstances surrounding Dix’s departure, the fact that two women are running against each other to replace him will almost certainly draw attention, but Sweeney doesn’t wish to be defined by her gender.
“I’m looking at running for this position in Senate (district) 25 because of my passion, not because I’m a woman,” she said. “We’re all wired differently, and the new perspective that a different person can bring to the table can help change mindsets.”
She did, however, offer a firm rebuke of the culture of sexual harassment detailed in a lawsuit filed against the Senate GOP that eventually resulted in a $1.75 million settlement for former staffer Kirsten Anderson.
“It needs to stop,” Sweeney said. 
The full story will be available in next week's Grundy Register and Eldora Newspapers. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here. 

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