Meet the House District 53 Democratic Candidates: Jennifer Wrage


Jennifer Wrage

Age: 62

Residence location: Gladbrook (rural)

Profession: Recently retired teacher

Education: BA Elementary Education from UNI

Family: Husband Nathan Wrage; daughter Angela Ablaberdieva, son-in-law Maruf Ablaberdiev, grandchildren Mergan, Lola, and Imran Ablaberdiev; son Tyler Wrage

1) Why do you want to be a state legislator? What is your primary motivation for running?

I have decided to run for the state legislature to support our public schools, AEAs, and mental health support. As a retiring public school teacher of 32 years, a parent, and now a grandparent, I know the crucial role public education plays in our society today. I want to do everything in my power to ensure our schools and the families using them have all the support they need to be successful.

2) Have you previously run for elected office? If so, for what office(s) and did you win?

I have been an elected official of the Tama County Extension Council for 13 years, being elected each time I have run.

3) What distinguishes you from the other candidates in your primary race?

I have lived in rural Iowa my entire life and have dedicated my life’s work to making sure it is continually learning and growing. As an educator I have learned to be a good listener and decision maker, which would assist me in listening to the communities I represent and make informed decisions with what information I gather. I have had to be adaptable and flexible, which would help me work creatively to find solutions.I have a passion for learning new things, and this job would involve learning every day. Communication has been key to being a successful educator and I believe would allow me to fulfill my duties responsibly.

4) What challenges does District 53 – a primarily rural district – face today that you would like to see addressed by the state legislature? If elected, what would you do to help address those challenges if the Democratic Party remains the minority party in the Iowa House following the 2024 election?

Our educational system is being attacked from every direction. Our public money must go to support and develop our public schools. The students in those schools need support, which is enhanced by the services our AEAs provide. Small rural districts rely on the AEAs to provide services that they could not finance on their own – like a full time speech pathologist, audiologist, etc. Teaching has taught me that everyone needs to have a seat at the table to problem solve. The more input provided, the better decisions can be made. I would welcome working with all legislators to make our state better. I also believe that a woman and her doctor should make decisions concerning her own body. Keeping our water safe for our future citizens needs to be a priority also.

5) Where do you stand on funding for public schools – is it adequate or otherwise?

Public money is for public schools. When our educational funding isn’t keeping up with our cost of living it isn’t enough.

6) Would you have voted ‘yes’ for the Area Education Agencies (AEAs) reform legislation (which also included raising teacher pay) recently signed into law by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds? Please explain why or why not you would have voted that way.

As I stated earlier, the AEA provides services that small rural schools can’t afford. Just this school year I have used our AEA for mandatory training, professional development, crisis team support, special educational support for my special needs students, speech pathology, audiology, STEM materials, occupational therapy, and the school psychologist. I am sure that isn’t even a comprehensive list. My students and their families are the ones that will suffer without our AEA support.

7) State Rep. Dean Fisher (R-Montour) has represented Tama County in the Iowa House for over a decade. Many Democrats have tried and failed to unseat him. Why are you the candidate Democrats should vote for to take on Rep. Fisher in the 2024 General Election? How will you create a path to victory that no other Democrat has seemingly been able to accomplish?

I have followed Representative Dean Fisher’s legislative decisions since his very first candidacy. He continues to be a follower and not the leader for our communities that we need. I am approachable and truly want to hear what our communities are concerned about and am ready to work for their people. I have done my best to attend City Council meetings in as many of the communities I can fit in my busy end of the school year schedule. I have found that many of these communities have the same challenges and when asked, Representative Fisher hasn’t attended to find out these challenges for years. I am doing my best to reach out, personally, to as many citizens as I can to learn from them. I think that Representative Fisher needs to be replaced as he ran on school vouchers, voted for school vouchers, and now is starting his own Christian School which will be funded by those vouchers. He is not listening to the small communities that are to be represented by him. The people of Tama and Poweshiek counties are ready for a change.

8) In one sentence, why should people vote for you on June 4, 2024?

If you want to see our communities heard and represented, our public schools supported, and our mental health services improved, vote Wrage on June 4th.