MUSCATINE, Iowa — Muscatine firefighter and paramedic Chris Brase, 49, will seek the Democratic nomination for Senate District 46 next spring.
If he wins the primary on June 5 — and to date, no Democrats have filed for the race — Brase will face one of two incumbent Republican senators, Jim Hahn of Muscatine or Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon. Both GOP senators reside within the boundaries of the newly redrawn district.
“The people of Muscatine and Scott counties are trying hard to get back on their feet. Middle-class families want stability and new opportunities,” Brase said Friday. “Iowans want less gridlock and bickering in Des Moines. I’m tired of politicians who have stopped listening to their constituents. That’s why I’m running for the Iowa Senate.”
Brase has never held public office, but he has served as president and vice-president of the Muscatine Association of Firefighters Local 68 during his 21-year career as a Muscatine firefighter and paramedic. He said he plans to complete his current term as vice-president, which expires in April 2012.
“I’ve always encouraged people to be politically active, and I thought this is the time to step up to the plate and do what I have been preaching to people,” he said.
Brase said that if he’s elected he’ll focus on public safety and education issues.
He said Gov. Terry Branstad’s education reform package hasn’t come with an estimated price tag, “and that’s a huge red flag for me,” Brase said. “I believe there is room for improvement in our public school system, but you have to look at the value and the cost. If the governor mandates changes without allocating the funds, then it’s left to school boards to come up with the funding.”
He said he wants to streamline education and training requirements for Iowa’s volunteer fire departments.
“The requirements are necessary, but they’re a burden on people trying to volunteer,” Brase said. “I think we need to make the requirements fit the need of the industry, but not unduly difficult to get good volunteers.”
Brase said he’s received encouragement to run from other Democrats, including Sen. Tom Courtney, D-Burlington. He also has the support of many of his fellow firefighters.
“Most everyone I’ve talked to, they’re excited for me to run my campaign,” he said.
Brase has been a registered Independent most of his adult life, but switched to the Democratic Party about eight years ago.
“Over time,” he said, “I’ve leaned more toward Democratic values.”
Should he win in November 2012, Brase said he plans to take a leave of absence from his work during the months the Legislature is in session.
He said he plans to focus his campaign efforts by “knocking on a lot of doors, hearing people’s concerns and issues and taking them back to the state capitol.”
He and his wife Donna have three grown children and one grandchild.
“Donna’s support was the most critical,” in his decision to run, a decision he made last month. “There would be no way to consider this without her support.”
Senate District 46 covers most of Muscatine County and parts of Scott County. Besides Muscatine, it includes Blue Grass, Buffalo, Walcott, Eldridge and part of Davenport.