A north central Iowa woman has been elected as the floor leader in the Iowa House, the first time a woman has held one of the top two jobs in the House.
Linda Upmeyer of Garner will serve as the House Majority Leader when the legislature convenes in January. It means she’ll control the timing of debate and make other key decisions about how bills move through the House.
Upmeyer is the daughter of the late Delwyn Stromer, a long-time lawmaker who held top leadership jobs during his time in the state legislature. Upmeyer thinks her dad would excited for her if he were alive today.
“You know, he held this position, as well as speaker,” Upmeyer says. “He wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t think it was a meaningful and important contribution to make, so I think that’s the way he’d see it.”
Upmeyer’s father, who served 23 years in the legislature,. died in 2003 when Upmeyer was in her first term in the Iowa House.
“So we never really did talk about any future I might have and what my goals would be, but he was very excited to have me run for the legislature,” Upmeyer says. “He was always kind of curious that I would leave a good job to go do that, but he was very excited that I did.”
Upmeyer still works on a very limited part-time schedule as a nurse, to maintain her certification. “Sometimes when I’d complain that, ‘Golly, I don’t feel very lucky. I didn’t win this or that,’ my dad always told me the harder you work the luckier you get,” Upmeyer says. “And I absolutely believe that’s true and I think we demonstrate that every day.”
The late Mary Lundby of Marion was the first woman to serve in the number two-slot in the Iowa Senate, as she was elected co-leader of the senate in 2006. Lundby had served in the House, too, where she had been elected to the number-three leadership slot there before she ran for the state senate. During a statehouse news conference this morning, Upmeyer was asked to reflect on her rise to the number-two slot in the Iowa House.
“That’s certainly a humbling experience to be the first woman that’s been able to hold that position,” Upmeyer said. “While I certainly believe it’s time, I always believed that the correct person should be in the positions that the caucus elects them to, so I hope they did that because they believe I’m the right person and not just so we have the first woman and I think they did.”
Upmeyer’s mother, Harriet, was a long-time secretary in the Iowa House and Upmeyer stayed overnight with her mother in West Des Moines before today’s statehouse meeting.
The late Minnette Doderer of Iowa City was the first woman elected to leadership roles in the Iowa legislature back in the ’60s and ’70s. Doderer was House minority whip in 1967 and ’68, and she was the first woman to serve as president pro tempore of the Iowa Senate from 1975 to 1976.