By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News
Joe Mitchell may have only graduated high school three years ago, but thinks he?s ready to take over the seat left vacant in the 84th district of the House of Representatives as Rep. David Heaton (R-Mt. Pleasant) announced he will not be running this year.
Mitchell is only 20 years old but thinks his experience in the capitol over the last four years sets him apart.
?I have a lot more experience than a lot of people have ever had. I?ve been doing (work) for the past four years to be ready for this,? he said.
Mitchell graduated from WACO High School in 2015, a semester earlier than his classmates. He was a member of numerous extracurricular activities, but not student government. He had not considered a career in politics at all until his English teacher told him about the page program in the capitol and encouraged him to apply.
After being accepted into the program, he spent his second semester of his senior year as an intern and page for the House of Representatives. The job duties of the page program include delivering messages, staffing meetings and in special cases, work directly for the Speaker of the House.
After his initial year, Mitchell spent the next two years as a clerk for Sen. Bill Anderson (R-Pierson) in northwest Iowa. That following summer, he spent the first half working for Gov. Kim Reynolds and conducted research about various bills. He spent the latter half of his summer in Washington, D.C. where he worked for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).
His experience in the capitol and opportunity to continue to work there helped him to choose to enroll at Drake University where he will graduate this May with a degree in business. Throughout his four years in the capitol, he has gained insight and mentors in fellow representatives.
One person who has influenced him heavily is Chief Clerk Carmine Boal. When he first considered running for office, he turned to her for advice. ?There?s never a perfect time to run for office,? she told him. ?When the opportunity presents itself, you have to take it.?
Mitchell has decided to take the opportunity despite the challenges he faces, such as his age. The Drake senior is not worried about this becoming an issue as he feels this is the best time for him to run.
?I?m young and I have a lot of energy and I don?t have as many commitments as I will 10 to 15 years from now,? he said.
To qualify for office, the candidate must live in the district 60 days before the election and be at least 21 years of age. Mitchell plans to move to Mt. Pleasant next month and will be turning 21 next week, which will fulfill both requirements.
In the short term, Mitchell hopes to accomplish a tax reform to help small businesses, an issue that is near to him. Mitchell?s father is the owner of MD Orthopedics in Wayland. The business is very close to Mitchell?s heart as he hopes to return one day and work for his father. The tax reform bill has been proposed and if passed, will be the first reform bill Iowa has seen in over 20 years.
In the long run, his goal is simple: ?Make sure we?re creating a better Iowa for future generations,? he said.