It's been a whirlwind schedule for Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, as the new minority leader of the Iowa House - and the 2014 legislative session is still more than a month away.
Smith was elected to the leadership role by his Democratic peers in August replacing Kevin McCarthy. Since then, he's made two trips to Washington, D.C. and has racked up plenty of miles traveling the state promoting Democratic candidates and listening to issues.
"I've been probably to every corner of the state," Smith said.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Rep. Mark Smith, D-Marshalltown, stands outside his office of the State Capitol in Des Moines Friday. Smith is new minority leader of the Iowa House.
He's also been busy hosting several people a day at his new office in the State Capitol.
It's about to get even busier for Smith, who turns 62 next month. The legislative session will start Jan. 13 and Smith said among the priorities for his party will be the expansion of alternative energy and broadband technology and the reviewing of laws implemented previously by legislators.
He also wants to find ways to boost the middle class and address the increasing poverty level in the state.
Smith said this new role will reap benefits for his constituents in Marshall County. He is able to get the area more at the forefront in his talks with state and national leaders.
"We put a greater emphasis on our area," Smith said. "I'll be in contact with a greater number of people across the state and the nation."
Smith hopes in the future the Democrats can gain control of the House and in turn promote his role to Speaker of the House. He will often be working with Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, who is the majority leader in the House.
"We have a good working relationship," Smith said.
Smith has previously served as an assistant party leader and is excited to take on this new role as he enters his 14th year in the Iowa House.
"I think it's a great honor to be a leader of a caucus and to be elected by your peers," he said.