Des Moines — Iowa Public Health Director, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, stepped down from the position today, and Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz also announced his candidacy for Iowa's Third District seat in the US House of Representative. Another candidate has already stepped forward to seek the Secretary of State's Office.
Miller-Meeks said she has been offered other opportunities, which she is exploring further. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad accepted her resignation earlier today.
“It is with regret that I accept Mariannette’s resignation, as she was a director who served with great passion,” Branstad said in a press release. “Mariannette has been a champion of health in Iowa, including working to promote our Healthiest State Initiative. Lieutenant Governor Reynolds and I thank her for her service to the people of Iowa.”
Miller-Meeks has served as the department's director since Branstad took over the Governor's Office in January 2011. Deputy Director Gerd Clabough will serve as interim director, effective Jan. 17. Marion County Public Health Director Kim Dorn says she has known both Miller-Meeks and Clabough. She wishes Miller-Meeks well and looks forward to working more closely with Clabough.
"I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Miller Meeks, and I will miss her leadership," Dorn said. "She was quite down-to-Earth as a leader. She has been to my office, and I have visited hers to talk about the direction of public health in the future. Her email this morning indicates that she has some interesting opportunities, and she didn’t want to give partial effort by being distracted. I wish her well in whatever she moves forward with."
"(Clabough) was with IDPH many years ago in the financial world of IDPH. He went to the private sector for awhile, and then came back to IDPH," Dorn added. "I know him because we were both president of the Iowa Public Health Association (at different times, of course), so our paths cross there. Our paths crossed occasionally in his role as deputy director of IDPH as well. His historical perspective, his experience with private/public partnerships, and his focused style will be an asset during his tenure as the interim director."
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman reacted to Miller-Meeks' decision as well. He wrote in a press release, "Mariannette Miller-Meeks' resignation is past due. She has used the office of public health for a political agenda only Michele Bachmann and the Tea Party could love – demonizing working families in need with blatantly false information about Iowans, trafficked on the Internet by a radical Tea Party fringe."
Schultz, originally from Council Bluffs, announced his candidacy for Congress this morning as well. The seat he is seeking is currently occupied by fellow Republican, Tom Latham. Latham has announced his intentions to retire at the end of 2014.
“Fighting for the people of Iowa in the State Capitol has been an honor and privilege, but Washington is so broken, and so out of touch with main-street America, that I could no longer sit on the sidelines and watch as our children’s future was being mortgaged to pay for reckless policies today,” Schultz said in a press release.
Marion County Auditor Jake Grandia said he appreciates what Schultz has done and wishes him the best in the future. Price also reacted to Schultz's announcement.
“Matt Schultz is a Tea Party darling who has wasted tens of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars during his time as Secretary of State, and has little to show for it. Consistent with his efforts to suppress voters and intimidate Iowans, Schultz is now eager to bring his ‘spend more, do less’ approach of governing to the halls of Congress. One thing is clear: Schultz has his eyes on a spot in the Ted Cruz Caucus. Whether it's violating state nepotism laws and hiring his brother, or his secretive attempts to purge voter registration, Matt Schultz is more of an ethics investigation in waiting than a serious congressional candidate," Price wrote in a press release.
Before being elected as Iowa Secretary of State, Schultz served five years as a city councilman in Council Bluffs where he successfully worked to cut the city tax levy every year. Schultz is an Eagle Scout and attended BYU-Idaho, the University of Iowa and Creighton University School of Law. He currently resides in Madison County with his wife, Zola, and their five children.
Because he can be on the ballot for only one office this November, Iowans will elect a new Secretary of State. Former Iowa Secretary of State and Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Republican Paul D. Pate, announced his candidacy for his party's nomination hours after Schultz's announcement.
“With Secretary Matt Schultz’s announced run for U.S. Congress, Iowa needs another proven leader who will protect their election process and serve the business community without political motives. Iowans do not want nor can they afford to have the office of chief elections commissioner for the state occupied by a partisan political operative from either party. I have served the people of Iowa as Secretary of State and hold the experience to continue Secretary Schultz’s good stewardship of the office,” stated Pat in a press release.
Pate is the President of Pate Asphalt Systems in Marion and recently served as Mayor of Cedar Rapids from 2002 –2006. While Mayor, Pate was elected President of the non-partisan Iowa League of Cities representing over 870 municipalities. Previously, he served as Iowa Secretary of State from 1995-1999 and represented NE Cedar Rapids, Marion and parts of Linn, Buchanan and Delaware Counties in the Iowa Senate from 1989-1995.
Pate and his wife Jane of 35 years are the parents of three adult children and five grandchildren.