Keosauqua resident Daniel Cesar has thrown his hat into the ring for the Iowa Senate District 41 race.
Cesar is seeking the Republican Party?s nomination. The seat is currently held by Republican Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa. Iowa Senate District 41 includes all of Van Buren and Davis counties, the eastern half of Wapello County and the western half of Jefferson County.
Cesar was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and spent much of his upbringing on Lake Michigan. He obtained a bachelor?s degree in business with a minor in math from Yankton College in Yankton, South Dakota, and then earned a master?s degree from the University of South Dakota.
Cesar taught economics in Latvia between August and December 1991, just as the Soviet Union was dissolving. The experience provided plenty of excitement, more than Cesar bargained for. One night, Cesar heard gunshots outside his window, coming from the warring factions attempting to gain power. He rolled off his mattress and spent the rest of the night under his bed.
Helping solve problems
When Cesar was asked how he got into politics, he was quick to point out that he doesn?t like it. Rather, he said he likes helping people solve their problems. He spoke about the projects he?s helped with in Keosauqua, such as building a new jail and adding handicapped accessibility to the post office. He recalls one incident in which he came upon a man with spina bifida who had fallen on the steps outside the post office. The man said several people had walked by without helping him up, which angered Cesar and made him realize the importance of handicap access.
Cesar said another problem he tackled was helping found Maharishi Vedic City.
Cesar has not always been a Republican. In 2009, he represented the Fourth of July Party in the 2009 special election to fill a vacancy in Iowa House District 90, a race won by Democrat Curt Hanson of Fairfield. Cesar said he was once in the Democratic Party, too, and ran for the party?s nomination for a U.S. congressional seat. However, he said members of the party made him feel unwelcome because he is pro-life, and now he is on the Van Buren Republican Central Committee.
Cesar has a few ideas that separate him from other politicians, and he?s hoping that novelty will help him stand out in the District 41 race. He said that, as agricultural income has been dropping with the price of corn and beans, the state needs a new industry. He believes that state-chartered banks independent of the Federal Reserve are just what the doctor ordered.
Cesar envisions that these state-chartered banks could change small transaction fees, and that because they?d do so many transactions, the fees would add up in no time.
?It would attract billions of dollars from around the world,? he said. ?The money would go to the Iowa Tax Authority to reduce property taxes.?
Cesar also has ideas about how to fix education. He noted that Van Buren schools had 127 students enroll out of its district, and only five enroll in from outside. It?s costing the district $722,000 a year. That?s why he wants to end open enrollment.
?Open enrollment is killing us,? he said.
He said if a student is unsatisfied with their schooling, they should bring it to the attention of the district to correct it.
?Our school in Keosauqua is not a bad school,? he said, remarking that perhaps some of the revenue from state-chartered banks could go to education.
Cesar is uncomfortable with suggestions put forward regarding guns and school safety.
?Don?t arm our teachers. It makes no sense,? he said. ?Neither does it make sense to turn our schools into fortresses.?
He said the best thing schools can do is for their guidance counselors to establish relationships with every student, and for the rest of society to help through providing mental health facilities.
Cesar said he is against giving public money to charter schools.
?We don?t need a new system that competes with existing public schools,? he said.
Cesar said his top funding priorities as a Senator would be: 1) law and the judiciary; 2) fire and rescue; 3) emergency preparedness.
?I think those three should be fully funded before anything else,? he said. ?We have nothing for fire and rescue at the state level. In Van Buren, we have nothing prepared for a disaster. Our fire and rescue struggle, and it?s wrong.?
Cesar said the judiciary is chronically underfunded. He?s worried the state will discontinue the district courtroom in Keosauqua because of a lack of funding.
The primary election is June 5. Cesar is competing against Mariannette Miller-Meeks for the Republican Party?s nomination.