Most of Sen. Janice Weiner’s (D-Iowa City) life has been dedicated to public service. Serving her community is how she was raised, her personal philosophy, the majority of her life experience, and part of her Jewish values.
“I view myself as a lifelong public servant,” she said. “And to me, this is part of continuing that tradition, continuing that trajectory and continuing to represent and give back to my community.”
To Weiner, it’s barely a question. She said she’s thankful for the education and community she had growing up and it’s her responsibility to use her experiences and give back.
The new senator started her first term this week, and will represent most of Iowa City and all of University Heights. Weiner said it’s a familiar area for her since she served for three years on the Iowa City Council, even if her new district is smaller.
Keeping those people in mind is also how she plans to work.
“I think it’s incumbent upon us also to point out that every elected official really has a duty to answer to their constituents,” Weiner said. “People should show up for their constituents and be willing to answer questions, including hard questions. That’s something that you experience at local government that I think most people in the state legislature may never have experienced.”
Some of Weiner’s priorities include championing the powers and authorities of local governments—including school boards—preserving women’s reproductive and abortion rights, figuring out how to apportion money from an opioid settlement, and education.
Iowa’s public schools are a big reason Weiner came back to Iowa. Her daughter was struggling in DC schools and she knew the Iowa City Community School District would help. And it did.
Weiner is also aware she has a lot to learn and won’t have much power as a member of the Democratic minority, which has only 16 members to Republicans’ supermajority of 34.
That’s where she sees her 26 years of experience in the US Foreign Service coming in handy.
“Every country I went to, part of my job was to get to know people in either their parliaments or their state legislatures across the political spectrum, understand how that all worked, what their priorities were, and be able to report on that to the US government,” Weiner said.
The key to the job was building relationships and figuring out where common interests were. She said she plans to use that strategy in the Iowa Senate, especially since most of the work is done in subcommittees and committees.
“The best way to go about it at this point is just to get to know people, get to know the leaders on the committees I’m serving on, really sort of dig in to figure out where we might have points in common, where we can start a conversation and get to know each other,” she said.
At A Glance:
Name: Janice Weiner
Position: Iowa Senator for District 45
Committee Assignments: local government, state government, judiciary, technology
Residence: Iowa City
Education: Iowa City Community School District (West High), Princeton, Stanford
Experience: Three years on the Iowa City Council, 26 years as a foreign services officer
Family: Two daughters, a granddaughter
Interests (when she has the time): hiking, playing with the community band, going to see theatre
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