Johnston native Tom Leffler, five-time city council person and retired Pioneer senior manager, announced today he will seek the Democratic Party nomination for Iowa House District 39, taking on the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary. Leffler will be nominated at a special convention later this month.
First elected to the council in 1980 in a special election to fill a vacancy, Leffler earned the support of strong majorities in Johnston with his interaction with voters, fiscal conservatism, and philosophy of supporting diverse growth while protecting the rights of current citizens. He was easily reelected to the council in four general elections during the next two decades, serving until the end of 1999.
Leffler served as the liaison with Planning and Zoning, Comprehensive Planning and the Johnston Economic Development Commission; he supported the initial implementation of Tax Increment Financing in Johnston—during a time of very rapid population and business growth. He also served as Johnston’s representative to the Metropolitan Waste Agency, helping with the environmental upgrades to the landfill as well as implementation of curbside recycling pickup. He was also selected as mayor pro-tem during his tenure.
Leffler worked with members of both parties on the council which established a fixed goal for the city’s property tax levy, while emphasizing infrastructure investments consistent with its comprehensive plan. The council maintained a fiscally conservative debt to bonding capacity ratio and saw its bond rating improve over the period.
In 2000, Leffler retired from the council to focus on his 38-year career at Pioneer in information management, and other civic roles. He retired from Pioneer in September, 2012. He is a 25-year member of the Johnston Lions Club, serves as its treasurer and previously was club president—and was recognized by the Lions with two state and international service recognition awards. He is also treasurer of Dream Catcher, Inc., a non-profit organization that was instrumental in creating two affordable housing developments that integrate facilities accommodating those with disabilities.
Leffler attended Johnston schools from kindergarten through high school, and in 2008 was named to the Johnston High School Hall of Fame. He graduated with honors from Iowa State University in 1968 with a degree in mathematics and urban problems. From 1968-70 he served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, after which he returned to Des Moines and Johnston.
Leffler’s spouse of 25 years is Judy Anderson, past Johnston Citizen of the Year and well known to civic groups and churches throughout central Iowa as the meal volunteer coordinator for the Central Iowa Shelter & Services for the homeless and veterans, which she helped found and continues to serve as a board member. Anderson is also a member of the Lions, and is the market manager for the Lions-sponsored Johnston Farmers’ Market. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
“I will strive to make the Johnston, Grimes, Urbandale and Jefferson Township citizens proud by working effectively with both Democrats and Republicans in the House to implement improvements serving all of our citizens. Given my background—as I have demonstrated in the non-partisan city council—I think I’m the best person to get things done on behalf of our district and the state. Economic growth is driven by business innovation, a well-educated workforce and investments in infrastructure.”
Leffler, who Saturday ran the annual Dam to Dam Road Race, says of himself, “I’m a young 68.”