State representative plans to continue good work

State representative Mark Smith announces his retirement from the legislature after he finishes his term. Smith has served District 71 as the representative for 18 years.

I remember when twenty years was more than a lifetime.   Now, at age 67, it is a blink of an eye.  

For twenty years, it has been my honor to serve as State Representative for the good, hard-working people of Marshalltown and the surrounding area.  For my first term, I had the honor of representing the people of LeGrand and Timber Creek Townships as well.  For the past eighteen years, I have also represented the people in Liscomb, Taylor, Marion, and Vienna Townships.  In the last redistricting, I received the honor of representing the people of Bangor Township as well.

And now, I am announcing that I am retiring from public life.  

After months of reviewing options, I have decided that it is time for me to pursue other avenues.  As was reported by the Times-Repubican, I considered seeking other public offices.  However, there are several aspects of my life that have been on hold during the twenty years that I have served as State Representative.

My mother is 92 and while she is in relatively good health and living in her own home, I need to devote more time and energy to her care.  My wife, Karen, has been a wonderful companion during these twenty years.  Both of us want to travel and spend more time doing the things we enjoy doing together.  Our daughter, Allison, was 11 when I first elected and now holds her masters in library science and serves the good people of Washington, Iowa.  Reading all the books she recommends will fill a good deal of my time!

For my swearing in as your representative in January, 2001 during a cold and snowy time, I kept a campaign promise and rode my 1985 bicycle from Marshalltown to the Statehouse.  I plan to ride that same bicycle from Marshalltown to Des Moines for my last session this coming January.

This is to signify that I am still in good health.  I might not bicycle as fast as I once could, but it is still a method of transportation that I use regularly.  I began my political career promoting health and wellness and want to end it doing the same.

You’ve been good to me and I thank you.  After I was first elected, I would sometimes be driving at night and see farmhouse lights and think, “I represent those folks.”  I still think that and always get a special sense of honor when I pass into the district that you and I live in.

During these twenty years, we’ve gone through many changes in this legislative district. As we tackled changing demographics in our community, it has been important to me to be a voice of progress and equality.  We are communities that reflect the diverse faces of Iowa more than most communities.  We have been welcoming to new Iowans and now are rich, diverse communities.  From classes at the downtown learning center to the citizenship classes at United Food and Commercial Workers Hall, over many years, I saw the faces of new Iowans who are eager to be part of the American Dream.  We, in this legislative district, have offered those opportunities to thousands.

At the same time, the traditional pride of this community has remained strong. As a person who was born a sixth generation Iowan and who has lived no place else but in Iowa, nothing could prove that more the kind of people Iowans are than our response to the July 19, 2019 tornado.  

So to all of you:  a heartfelt thank you.  I plan to continue to raise my voice for the issues for which I have passion.  I will continue to work toward the progress I feel our area and state should aspire and I plan to continue being a good neighbor.


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