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Friday, May 6, 2016

The Learning Curve

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Megan Hess, a 2005 graduate of Spencer High School, will begin a new chapter in her life as the first representative for Iowa's new House District 2. The 85th Iowa General Assembly convenes in Des Moines on Monday, Jan. 14.
(Photo submitted)
Hess' legislative role prep began in high school

Megan Hess knows her way around the halls of the "olden dome" in Des Moines. But when she travels to the state capitol to begin work Jan. 14, things will be a bit ... new.

"This is definitely a different role," Hess, who was elected in November to serve as the first state representative in the newly formed House District 2, said. "The desk got a little bit bigger and so did the responsibility."

Hess spent her senior year of high school serving as a page at the Iowa Capitol on Fridays in 2005.

"Spencer High School was very accommodating," Hess said.

The mileage on Representative-elect Megan Hess' "new" used car jumped from 66,000 to 104,000 since announcing her intention to seek the House seat in August 2011.
(Photo submitted)
She was asked to continue her work in the building as a clerk for Rep. Clel Baudler, of Greenfield, while attending college at Drake.

Her experience exposed her to the inner workings of the political world and whetted her appetite to serve in a legislative capacity.

Hess kicked off her campaign for the District 2 seat near the end of August 2011 while wrapping up law school in Minnesota. She defeated Josh Davenport in the Republican primary and faced her former high school government teacher Steve Bomgaars in the general election, earning the legislative nod from voters in Clay, Palo Alto and southern Dickinson counties.

As her run for office heated up, she began her career as an employee at the Hemphill Law Office in Spencer, balancing work with the rigors of the campaign trail.

"There's been this transition time between the election and the holidays, but I'm ready to get started. This is the latest a session can start, but it's given us a little more time to get organized and get things together," Hess said.

Stationary, hiring a clerk, figuring out the desk situation - the first term representative said she has those things under control.

"A lot of that I've tried to figure out and prepare for right away," Hess said. "Issue-wise, I'm trying to learn as much about the issues as they come at me."

She continued, "I'm fairly technologically savvy, so I've got E-mails coming to my phone about the issues. Fortunately, we have research staff that are experts in many of these issues. They've been very helpful in answering many of my questions. And I've been able to ask people in the community, 'What do you think about this?'"

In mid-December, Hess joined her fellow freshmen for an orientation at the state capitol. The group worked on proper language from the floor, and established logistics such as sound levels for each speaker and height for camera angles.

"It was a little surreal getting to do that. It's a coveted position as a page," she admitted.

It was not her first trip to Des Moines. Her car has shared the campaign and candidate experiences with her.

"When I announced my candidacy, I had 66,000 miles on my new used car. I think last night (Thursday), I had 104,000," Hess said. "I think I've made probably five or six trips back and forth (to Des Moines). As much as possible, I try to take different routes to stop and see people or attend meetings."

Hess is one of seven women in the House and is not the youngest member of the legislature, as many might have expected. There are two representatives younger than she is. But she is confident that her experience has prepared her for the task ahead.

During her junior year at Drake, following the conclusion of Iowa's general session, Hess left the Hawkeye state to work for Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Steve King in Washington D.C. She applied to serve an internship at the White House and was selected, extending her stay in the nation's capitol.

"I got the call and stayed in DC for another semester," Hess said. "I had to work with Drake and continue to take classes so I could graduate on time. They too were very accommodating."

Serving during President George W. Bush's administration, she worked for a time in the Office of Public Liaison.

"It's kind of a bridge between the social office and scheduling, and the policy issues. We did a lot of work with advocacy groups and arranged a lot of briefings for White House officials. There was a lot of behind the scenes, infrastructure building and assisting with their trips to the White House. A lot of event planning and executing of the event."

When Carl Rove left the administration, Hess' boss was promoted and she moved to the Office of Strategic Initiatives and External Affairs, serving more in an administrative capacity.

Hess recalled one of her more special experiences while working at the White House.

"I was able to join the President and Vice President on the South Lawn for a recognition service on the anniversary of 9/11 on Sept. 11, 2007," Hess said. "It's something that will stay with me forever."

Returning to the Midwest for law school, Hess continued her work, serving in the Minnesota legislature as a research intern, administrator and on the lobbying side of things.

Now she's ready to leave Spencer for the better part of each week, and make Des Moines her home away from home, to participate in the 85th Iowa General Assembly. A hotel bed will replace her bed at home at least three or four nights each week and a home cooked meal will be three and a half hours away.

"There's something about coming home to your family when you've had a hard day," Hess admitted.

"The support that I've gotten has been overwhelming," she said. "People haven't forgotten about me after the campaign. People encourage me and ask me questions. They ask about about my family - and the dog."

The dog - her "drooling, snoring, sneezing bulldog," as she described him - was her companion during many parades and public appearances throughout the campaign. Sometimes he walked alongside her and sometimes she carried him.

"A lot of people have asked where George is going to go while in Des Moines. Several people have asked if they can watch him. That's very nice of them, but he'll be staying with my parents while I'm gone," Hess said.

Each freshman representative is matched with a legislator mentor. Hess has been paired with Rep. Dawn Pettengill, from Mt. Auburn.

"I'm really looking forward to getting started. Part of this job is being able to be flexible, move fluidly through issues and being prepared as new things arise. Things change so fast."

She continued, "I encourage people to contact me at any time. A phone call or a text message. Whatever works for them. If people are ever in Des Moines, I would love for them to stop by and get a tour. It's always great to have people from back home stop by. This is their building."

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ANOTHER story on her?! Nothing new, just restating her campaign background info. Enough already.

Being associated with one of the worst presidents in history is nothing to talk about. Heck no Republican wanted W within camera shot of themselves during the last 3 elections (2008, 2010, 2012).

-- Posted by helped_myself on Sat, Jan 5, 2013, at 9:30 AM

I am tired of hearing about how many miles she has put on her new-used car! I believe that is part of the job.

-- Posted by hawkfan1977 on Sat, Jan 5, 2013, at 11:04 AM

Bias as I am, I think the wrong person is going to be our State Rep. Steve is a moderate Democrat with much knowledge, life experiences and the interest of all people of District 2. He wanted to reach across the aisle, thus when he ran he did not accept any Special Interest PAC money. His campaign raised approximately $30,000 to Megan's $90,000. No negative ads and no mudslinging ...and he lost. Or did District 2?

-- Posted by Marti Bomgaars on Sat, Jan 5, 2013, at 11:06 PM

Here is a young person that has went out and worked very hard and was rewarded for her efforts. Which is an example of what liberals despise someone working and being rewarded for her efforts. Whether you agree with her or not she out worked her competition. She is young and full of energy instead of old, tired and entitled. Go Megan!

-- Posted by Bison on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 7:58 AM

@bison, let me see if I have this right - if you are young and successful, then you worked hard, but if you are older and successful, then you are entitled. It seems to me that an older successful person must have also worked hard, but that he has worked hard for longer.

-- Posted by DaveMunson on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 8:25 AM

@bison: "Each freshman representative is matched with a legislator mentor. Hess has been paired with Rep. Dawn Pettengill, from Mt. Auburn."

It is interesting that Megan's mentor has a birthdate of 07/02/1955, which gives her an age of 57. Is her mentor old, tired, and entitled?

-- Posted by Judith Olson on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 8:45 AM

For all the naysayers that have responded to this article, stop it already, will you? Megan is a great story and she deserves the press she has gotten. The standards of common decency should come into play here. If you don't like the outcome and don't like having her represent us, run against her on the next election. Most importantly, we are very fortunate to have someone who will listen to all sides representing us.

-- Posted by bburns01 on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 9:54 AM

@bburns01 - do you really think she will listen to all sides she represents? Here are a few facts that may dispute that statement

- worked for Steve King

- endorsed by the NRA and Iowa Farm Bureau

- her mentor is one of the most conservative members of the Iowa legislature - dawn pentigill who endorsed Santorum for president. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of people/associations that listen to all sides. I do hope she succeeds and represents all of the people of District 2 but I am not very optimistic based on those associations.

-- Posted by hawkfan1977 on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 12:53 PM

Sounds like a good conservative to me. I hope she sticks to her guns.

-- Posted by Dagny Taggart on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 10:06 PM

i am glad she beat bomgaars.there was nothing special about him other than being a huge liberal. she worked for steve king,endorsed by the nra and farm bureau?,sounds good to me.i welcome a fresh face with a new attitude instead of the same good ole boy,liberal,BS,that has gone on and would've continued had bomgaars won.go get em megan, and good luck.

-- Posted by big12cc on Sun, Jan 6, 2013, at 11:28 PM

I think it's good to have a new face and new ideas. Why put someone down before the performance.... give her a chance and then grade her.

-- Posted by mgu42 on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 4:41 AM

She is being groomed to take over "Mr Major Iowa Embarassment Steve Kings" position when he retires. Still cannot understand how she got elected.

-- Posted by CITIZEN SAM on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 7:13 AM

Obviously Steve did not get his message out well enough. Last time I checked, nothing about politics is fair so weather Mr. Bomgaars accepted PAC money or not doesn't matter. Maybe he should have. This article could have been about him. Vote her out next time around if you don't like the job she is doing. That is what makes America great.

-- Posted by iowafan11 on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 10:18 AM

Perhap Steve Bomgaars deserves some credit for her success. After all, he was her high school government teacher. In response to iowafann11 that Steve did not get his message out well enough, I suspect in a conservative Republican area his message went way over most peoples' heads. Hope he gives it another try!

-- Posted by canadagirl on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 12:42 PM

Young. Energy. Fresh. New ideas. Hard work. So does anybody have any REAL praise for her?

Also, congratulations to @big12cc on being the first person to ever describe a liberal Iowa teacher as a "good ole boy".

-- Posted by SluiceBox on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 3:00 PM

I voted for Mr. Bomgaars. I think he would have done a fine job. I'm curious to see what Megan can do for the state of Iowa. If she does a good job in my eyes I may vote for her next time around. If not, I would like to see Steve give it another try.

-- Posted by iowafan11 on Mon, Jan 7, 2013, at 3:31 PM

Considering the conservative leanings of this publication, it shouldn't be a surprise they are pushing Rep-Elect Hess as they are. Look forward to much more about her. I am curious though, had Mr. Bomgaars won, would they be spilling his image and gushing all over him as they are her?

-- Posted by HergerSeamas on Wed, Jan 9, 2013, at 1:09 PM

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