Ralph Holmstrom runs for District 84 House seat
Republican Ralph Holmstrom is running for the Iowa House of Representatives in District 84, the seat currently occupied by Republican Dave Heaton.
District 84 encompasses all of Henry County as well as portions of Washington, Jefferson and Lee counties. Heaton announced in January that he plans to seek re-election.
Holmstrom has never held elected office before and said politics is something he’s gotten into fairly recently. He grew up in Burlington and moved to Mt. Pleasant in 1987, where he has lived ever since. He has worked full time at Shottenkirk Chevrolet in Mt. Pleasant for the past 23 years.
The Burlington native said he became interested in politics when he realized the Iowa of today is not the state he grew up in.
“Our values have changed,” he said. “Iowa is not the state we inherited from our grandparents. Our prelude to the state’s constitution says we are grateful to the Supreme Being for blessings here received. When you go to the House or the Senate, you will hear them open in the morning with a prayer. At the end of the prayer, there is a resounding ‘Amen.’ And yet, we don’t seem to get it right when it comes to the sanctity of life and holy matrimony between one man and one woman.”
Holmstrom describes himself as a social and fiscal conservative. He said he wishes social issues received more attention in the Legislature than they currently do.
“Abortion is the tip of a spear,” he said. “If you don’t get that right, nothing else matters. There is a movement under foot to give [fetuses] personhood. Georgia has passed it, and Texas is working on a version of it. Why can’t we?”
Holmstrom said he believes life begins at conception and ends at natural death. He said that under the personhood legislation passed in Georgia, abortion could only be administered to protect the health of the mother.
“As long as I’ve been on this earth, I haven’t run into any woman who would die if she gave birth,” he said. “I’m sure those cases are out there, but they are very rare.”
Holmstrom describes marriage between a man and a woman, another issue he’s deeply concerned about, as the backbone of civilization.
“Nature supports it. Science supports it. God supports it,” he said. “I’m not running against my opponent so much as I am running for the state of Iowa, for my grandkids and everyone’s grandkids.”
The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in April 2009. In light of the court’s decision, Holmstrom said he would like the state to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Other goals Holmstrom has for the state are to lower taxes and make the tax rate flatter and more family-friendly. He said Iowa is one of only a handful of states that tax senior citizens on their Social Security benefits. He mentioned he is a strong supporter of vouchers to give parents greater freedom as to where to send their children to school.
“It causes the schools to perform well,” Holmstrom said. “Indiana has done a good job with vouchers, and Arizona is a textbook case. Somehow, they seem to get it right.”
Holmstrom said he has been campaigning since January. He’s a little surprised how often his clients at work bring up political topics to discuss. He realized many of the things his customers wanted to change about state government were the same things he wanted to change, which is what made him seek political office.
“A number of people feel like they have been denied their right to vote on [same-sex marriage],” he said.
When Holmstrom is not campaigning he enjoys spending time with his wife, who was his high school sweetheart, their four daughters and eight grandchildren, all of whom live in southeast Iowa. He is a member of Faith Christian Outreach Church and Kiwanis Club, and was a member of the Henry County United Way board for three years.