OTTUMWA — In one of the last area races to be determined Tuesday night, Republican Marriannette Miller-Meeks was elected to the Iowa Senate.

With Sen. Mark Chelgren, a Republican, deciding not to run for reelection this year, it was up to two newcomers to battle to decide who would take his seat in Des Moines.

Mary Stewart is a former educator. A Democrat, this was her first bid for state office.

Miller-Meeks was less of a newcomer. She’s been in multiple national races, and was named Iowa’s director of public health under Gov. Terry Branstad. Her win was announced shortly before midnight. Miller-Meeks took 52 percent of the vote, 11,451 votes to Stewart’s 10,632.

“I’ve been in Mary Stewart’s place,” said Miller-Meeks. “She ran a good race, and I appreciate that she put her name on the ballot. That’s not an easy thing to do.”

She said the Miller-Meeks campaign supporters gave her their all.

“We’re very happy, myself, my husband and our volunteers,” she said. “We knocked 24,000 doors, we raised money, we reached out to people, we were present and accessible; and that is the type of senator I will be.”

Her goal is to make this part of Iowa “the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.”

The job of county supervisor was competitive, too. Three candidates sought to get in; there were only two spots. Jerry Parker, a current supervisor, remained in first place through the night. He finished with 6,229 votes.

The race for second place, however, was more difficult to predict. Finally, as the last precincts came in, Wayne Huit stayed ahead of Mike Grooms: Huit had 5,283 votes while Grooms came in with 4,493.

“I’ve got to get to work now,” said Huit. “I’ve got to see how the fundamentals are working since it’s so new to me.”

Luckily, he said, Parker has been doing this a long time, and he’s known Parker since they were young.

“I think I’ll have some good mentors,” he said.

And Iowa representative Mary Gaskill, a Democrat, will retain her seat in Des Moines. She received 54 percent of the vote (5,368), while challenger Cherielynn Westrich received 46 percent of the vote.

Turnout in Wapello County showed a change from the previous mid-term elections. This time, no matter their party, voters seemed energized. As poll workers left the auditor’s office, several remarked that they hadn’t ever seen turnout like this outside of a presidential election.

Staff writer Mark Newman is at


Born in New England, reporter Mark Newman has lived in Iowa and Nebraska over 20 years, with 12 years as a Courier staff writer. He covered education news, but is now focusing on social issues as well as feature stories of local interest.