Jeff Kurtz was born in Fort Madison and has lived there most of his life. Jeff graduated from Aquinas High School in 1972. He attended Southeastern Iowa Community College and Iowa State University before joining the Santa Fe Railroad in 1974, first as a locomotive fireman before being promoted to locomotive engineer in 1975.
As a BNSF engineer, Jeff joined the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), part of the Teamster Rail Conference. Throughout his career, Jeff held multiple positions within the union, including serving as President of BLET Local 391 for eight years and as Iowa State Legislative Board Chairman from 2004-2014, where Jeff lobbied extensively for rail safety at both state and federal levels. Jeff retired from the BNSF Railroad in 2014 with almost forty-one years of service.
Jeff has long been active with the labor movement in Iowa. Most recently he was a co-chair of the Lee County Raise the Wage Coalition which succeeded in passing a local minimum wage ordinance prior to the legislature’s preemption bill.
Jeff has been married to his wife Debbie for 38 years and they are the proud parents of three children, Adam (Ft. Madison, IT Specialist with Conn Communications), Nathan (Maryland, Project Scientist with NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge), and Mindy McPherson (Cedar Rapids, a Product Owner with ACT student testing). They also have four grandchildren.