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Recent U. Iowa Grad On Campaign Trail To Statehouse

This story was written by Anna Lothson, The Daily Iowan

With finals a full month behind him, Matt Pfaltzgraf has been able to focus on his campaign this summer.

Having graduated from the UI with degrees in political science and business, the 23-year-old is on the trail to become the state representative for the 70th District in his hometown of Ankeny.

Pfaltzgraf, who was elected as the UI Student Government's state government relations liaison in 2007, is using his experience to drive his current campaign.

After clinching the Democratic nomination in early June, he said he was continuing to organize volunteers and "get his house in order."

Ankeny, which covers much of the Pfaltzgraf's district, is a quickly growing city of around 36,00, according to a special 2005 census. According to that census, the town grew by 33.4 percent from 2000 to 2005.

That rapid growth has caused funding shortages in the quickly expanding school system, Pfaltzgraf said.

"Funding has been a year behind," he said. "We have to play catch-up."

Reforming how the state calculates its school funding to help growing districts was one of his main issues.

"Reform is how things are done in the state of Iowa," he said.

Pfaltzgraf's opponent, Kevin Koester, agrees that Pfaltzgraf's ideas on adjusting school funding faster are good, but he believes schools losing pupils would stand to lose too much and drag their feet.

"I would support it, but the state of Iowa will not," he said.

Though Pfaltzgraf's age may have raised some concerns, he said, has had great experience from a young age.

"When people ask me about my age, I tell them that I promise to get older every day," he said.

In response to Pfaltzgraf's age, Koester who is 53, said Pfaltzgraf may be young, but he definitely not a new face in politics.

"I've got a lot of respect for Matt; he's worked hard on many campaigns, and probably more campaigns and more years than I have," Koester said.

Koester did note his experience serving as a school administrator for more than 32 years and on many other boards.

With the election a little more than four months away, Pfaltzgraf said people are looking for a fresh outlook.

Issues must be dealt with at a community level, he said, and worked from the ground up.

"It's important to educate people that there are ways to solve problems before they get to legislation," he said.

Mary Oliver, a spokeswoman for the Ankeny-area Democrats, said Ankeny is a heavily Republican area, so that was a obstacle for her party to tackle.

"We are talking about more fundraising and really getting the vote out," she said.

Koester said that Pfaltzgraf has remained very dedicated to his campaign, and the Republican admires the time he spends meeting people.

"We're going to work to catch up," Koester said.

Neither candidate has not said what his plans are for after the election, but each said he was prepared for the next step.

E-mail DI reporter Anna Lothson at:

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