By Jeff Montgomery
NSP Staff Writer
At the outset of his bid for the Iowa Senate, Chris Brase was not sure what he would encounter on the campaign trail.
“I am finding that people are truly interested,” Brase said. “There is a deep interest in the campaign and most people are glad to hear from you and glad to visit with you.”
There is one story, in particular, that stands out.
“I met a woman who had voted in every election she was eligible to vote in, and she told me a story about how her mother marched in Washington D.C. for women’s right to vote and, because of that, the importance of voting has just resonated with her.”
For Brase, a native of Donahue and a North Scott graduate, the last few months have provided a crash course in what it means to be a politician.
A longtime firefighter, Brase’s current Senate bid has marked his first foray into the world of politics.
Brase is attempting to unseat incumbent Shawn Hamerlinck, a 32-year-old Republican senator who is fresh off a convincing primary victory over Jim Hahn in June.
Brase was unopposed in the June primary, a reality that ensured the Democratic nomination but also has made it harder for him to earn name recognition as November approaches.
He has spent months meeting local citizens and plans to spend the final month of the campaign doing more of the same.
“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “I am going to keep trying to meet with as many voters as I can.”
For Brase, this kind of interaction comes naturally.
During his 22-year career with the Muscatine Fire Department, he realized he has a unique appreciation for public service and helping others. Brase said it is this experience that compelled his to try to help the public in a different way.
“I enjoyed what I was doing as a firefighter and I felt this was the next step, the next thing I can do where I make a difference,” he said.
So how, exactly, would Brase go about making a difference?
At the core of his campaign is the belief that partisan politics is paralyzing Iowa politics and hurting the state’s residents. Brase has made cooperation and true bipartisanship a core value in his campaign.
He makes this clear on the home page of his campaign website, where states that “as a firefighter, I put my life on the line for anyone in danger – and I don’t stop to ask if they’re a Republican or Democrat first.”
He echoed this sentiment in an interview with The North Scott Press.
“My campaign is taking a very bipartisan approach,” Brase said. “We believe we need to work through our issues and address our concerns in a bipartisan fashion.”
Input from citizens has reinforced his belief that bipartisanship is critical.
“People are tired of the lines being drawn in the sand, tired of our current politicians not working together to move forward,” he said.
Brase has also heard residents’ concerns about some of the specific issues hounding Iowa legislators.
On the topic of property taxes, he said, citizens are worried that efforts to reform the state’s tax code could ultimately shift a larger burden to some Iowans. When it comes to education, local residents have inquired about slipping test scores and expressed concern over whether Iowa schools can continue to meet rigorous standards.
Education is just an area where Brase is confident he could make an impact. He asserted that he could provide strong leadership on any issue related to public safety because of his experience as a firefighter and said he would enjoy serving on a committee related to public safety.
Brase would also bring a strong agricultural background to the position.
“I was born and raised on a family farm, so those issues are always on my mind,” he said.
With a month remaining before the election, Brase is continuing to focus on the little things.
“I’ve learned that people want to be heard and I am a legislator that will listen,” said Brase.