State Rep. Jerry Kearns (D-Keokuk) announced Tuesday afternoon that the 2018 legislative session will be his last. He said the time is right to step aside and allow a new voice to speak for southeast Iowa in Des Moines.
“I am completing my tenth year in the House and that is a reasonably long tenure for a citizen legislator,” said Kearns. “I retired from my regular job last year and while I enjoy serving in the Legislature, I believe now is the time to step aside and make room for others to serve.”
The regular job Kearns referenced was staff representative for The United Steelworkers International Union, which he retired from after serving nearly 20 years. He also worked as an industrial electrician in Keokuk, served in the U.S. Air Force for four years and on the Lee County Board for 18 years.
Kearns said he turns 74 this year, so after a lengthy career in public service, he wants to focus more on his family, including his wife Diane, who clerks for him in Des Moines.
“We are thinking about trying to do some things in retirement that this [position] kind of hinders a bit,” said Kearns. “So it’s probably time.”
Kearns said he has truly enjoyed his time in Des Moines and is thankful for the opportunity to serve the residents of the 83rd House District.
“I was friends with [former state representatives] Rick Larkin and Phil Wise, so they kind of filled me in on what it is like,” said Kearns. “Until you go through the process yourself and serve on your own, I don’t think you really know exactly what to expect. It’s been enjoyable. I still enjoy it.”
Kearns said his retirement announcement will not change his approach during the final few months of the current session. He said he will continue to fight for public education funding, collective bargaining rights and veterans.
Kearns said he made his announcement now so that people can decide if they want to run to replace him in the Iowa House.
“I encourage those who might be interested in public service in the legislature to step forward in order that the citizens of District #83 may consider your candidacy,” said Kearns. “If someone wants to run, this will give them a good start.”