District: Iowa Senate District 44
Occupation: Self-employed, Retired Administrator
Why did you decide to run for office?
I ran for the House in 2018 against Dennis Cohoon (D) who is the longest-serving legislator in Des Moines, currently serving his 34th year. I felt SE Iowa, more specifically Burlington and West Burlington (House District 87) needed true representation from someone who was highly visible and engaged in these communities. I am a former teacher, administrator, and businessman who was respected and willing to take on this new challenge. I faced an extremely uphill battle with the number of registered Democrats to Republicans (2:1) and eventually lost but my numbers were the same as other state-wide Republicans (Reynolds, Naig, etc.). While I was highly discouraged that I lost, many others were excited by my results and encouraged me to stay with it now that I had name recognition locally as someone who has run a competitive campaign. When I heard that Senator Tom Greene was thinking about retiring, my name came to the forefront from Senate Republicans and we established a mutual relationship that began to expand over the last several months. I saw myself fitting in with the Republican Caucus very well after meeting them and having individual conversations with many of them. My wife and family were on board and I enlisted my team of advisors from the ‘18 election and began to lean on my connections in other parts of my district to start planting the seed of my candidacy and to begin to get me in front of leadership in these towns. Other than a few years living on the east coast after graduate school, I have resided and worked in SE Iowa my entire life. I know many of these people and look forward to meeting many more.
What do you hope to accomplish?
I would really like to help to continue the work on reducing the tax burden on hard-working Iowans. Iowa is a GREAT state to live and want it to be a great state for people to work, and for small-business owners to set up shop without burdensome regulations and tax laws. If you look around SE Iowa, we have some really great people doing really great things and sometimes I feel that maybe we don’t get the recognition that the Des Moines area receives. I have often said that this is the forgotten corner of the state. My goal is to earn the voters’ trust and get elected, be open and honest in my communication with them and hopefully earn the respect of the Republican Caucus. If SE Iowa can have a leader in Des Moines the voices of my constituents will be heard! We have great people who work hard and any opportunities to have new business and industry in SE Iowa will be welcome. SE Iowa needs someone willing to fight for them and I believe I am the right person at the right time.
What would you like the voters to know?
I want them to know that I am a family man and love my wife and children. Together, my wife Tina and I have three children. Tina’s daughter, Natalie is a sophomore at the University of Iowa and her son, Nate is a sophomore at Burlington High School. My daughter, Carly is in 8th grade. We live in Burlington and we have a wonderful support circle of family and friends. I have been in leadership positions my entire life. I started my professional career working in the NBA for the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. I returned to Iowa and was a teacher/coach for five years before becoming an administrator for 10 years. I then worked in private business as a Director of Administration for a local company that has 500+ employees. I am currently self-employed. I feel that with my experience in both education and private business I am well-equipped to have a meaningful dialogue about the real issues that are facing SE Iowans and hopefully find a path to help them get their concerns addressed.
Tell us more about your business experience:
In my role as Director of Administration with W.W. Transport, Inc. in West Burlington, Iowa, I served many different roles, but most predominantly as the head of Human Resources for over 500 employees and also a key business development officer, most notably Amazon. We had national contracts with Amazon in U.S. cities helping them meet their transportation needs and I was the primary contact often traveling to cities such as Charlotte, Tampa, San Antonio and Columbus, Ohio to name a few. I have hired, trained and mentored many people throughout my business experiences. The feedback that I always received was that my door was always open and I took the time to listen to their concerns. I felt those two traits coupled with my ability to problem solve and make sound decisions made me a natural fit for working on behalf of SE Iowans in the Iowa Legislature.
In 2016, Tom Greene surprised and beat incumbent Tom Courtney with a 53% to 47% margin (27,410 total votes).
This district swung hard for Trump in 2016. In 2016, voters in the district went for Trump over Hillary Clinton by 52.4 percent to 42.0 percent. With Trump and Joni Ernst, at the top of the ticket, SD 44 has the potential to line up favorably for Republicans in 2020. Burlington is reliably Democratic, but the wider district is home to many conservative-leaning independents.
A candidate, such as Courtney, attempting a comeback after a defeat can be challenging. Courtney does have longstanding union support. Goodwin has a good chance to appeal to many of the independents as he has good name recognition in the community and should be able to mount a very competitive campaign.