Iowans elected another two African-Americans to the Iowa House on Tuesday bringing the total number to a record six. Kerry Burt of Waterloo and Phyllis Thede of Davenport will be sworn in on January 12th, 2009. They will join Rep. Deborah Berry, Rep. Helen Miller, Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, and Rep. Wayne Ford who were all re-elected on Tuesday. Here’s story from Charlotte Eby of Lee Newspapers:
Iowa elects record number of blacks to Statehouse
By Charlotte Eby | Wednesday, November 5, 2008 7:24 PM CST
DES MOINES — On a day when Democrat Barack Obama became the country’s first African-American president, Iowa voters sent a record number of black lawmakers to the Iowa House of Representatives.
All four of the House’s current black members were re-elected to their seats Tuesday. Democrat Phyllis Thede defeated Rep. Jamie Van Fossen, R-Davenport, to become the first black state lawmaker elected from Scott County.
Unofficial results also showed Waterloo Democrat Kerry Burt defeating Rep. Tami Wiencek, R-Waterloo.
If Burt’s lead holds when results are final, that will mean six blacks will hold seats in the Iowa House of Representatives, all Democrats.
“It’s a significant milestone,” said Burt, who is biracial.
Rep. Wayne Ford, D-Des Moines, remembers when he arrived in the Legislature in 1997, he was the only minority member.
“This opportunity we have now will begin a movement that will make Iowa not more to the left or right — I’ll leave that to history to judge — but more understanding to people of color,” Ford said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Des Moines, said the addition of new minority members to the Iowa House shows that Iowa is one of those states that has largely moved beyond race as an issue.