DES MOINES, Iowa -- The fervor surrounding banking groups' campaigns to go after the tax-exemption of mostly larger credit unions doesn't mean anything if they can't sway the majority, said Bob Kressig (D-Cedar Falls).
Kressig, a director and former chairman at $1.1 billion Veridian Credit Union, is seeking his second term in House District 19 against Republican Matt Reisetter, a 31-year old newcomer. Kressig's voting record centers mostly on playing a significant part in increasing funding for Iowa's post-secondary schools, increasing the personal expense allotment for Medicare recipients and continuing to push for bringing more jobs to rural parts of the state, which have seen new, "good paying" jobs as a result of a transition from traditional manufacturing to bio fuel.
As for Iowa's credit union landscape, Kressig said he believes his presence has helped quell dissension between credit unions and banks. He continues to believe that having a voice in the legislature can only help the industry present its case to the uninformed.
"Bankers are still trying to attack but in order to get something past, you need a majority," he said. "The majority of legislators [here] don't see credit unions as a threat. I know which legislators are opposing credit unions and I'm paying real close attention to them."
Those opponents are few and cut across party lines, said Kressig, who recently got elected to a three-year term at Veridian. Kressig has served on the credit union's board since 1996 including as its chairman and in various other positions within Veridian for more than 30 years.
Since May, Kressig said he's knocked on more than 7,100 doors in his district reacquainting himself with his constituents. His goal is to knock on 9,000 doors by the Nov. 7 election.
"Going door to door shows the personal side of me, it's personal one-on-one time for people to talk to me about their concerns," Kressig said. "It's not fair to the voter to always see me in my space."
Pounding the pavement and "defending [his] record" is probably more critical now given what Kressig has described as "dirty" campaigning by the Republican party. A flyer was recently mailed to voters that said Kressig and Dawn Pettengill of the Mount Auburn district supported a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to be eligible for in-state tuition. But the vote was taken in the Iowa House in 2004, months before Kressig and Pettengill were elected to the Iowa Legislature.
The mailers were sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, the WCFCourier reported. Mike Anton, the group's communications director, said the mistake was only noticed after the flyer had been mailed. Iowa Republicans said they had nothing to do with the mailing and were embarrassed and angered by the mistake.
Reisetter, Kressig's opponent, told the WCFCourier that the mailer was "garbage."
"Frankly, we're concerned that it hurts us more than it helps us," Reisetter said.
Kressig said he's "disappointed" that the campaigning has "misrepresented my voting record."
"It's very disappointing to me especially when my opponent came to me early on and asked that we run a fair campaign," Kressig said, adding that Reisetter has "run a strong campaign other than the negative component."
Meanwhile, Kressig said he will continue to raise money for his campaign through two fundraisers and appeal to the community to cast their votes.
"My success in the legislature has been in large part because of credit union backing and support," he shared. "We need to get more people in that are credit union supporters." --email@example.com