WATERLOO — After three rounds of ballots, Black Hawk County Democrats chose Eric Giddens on Saturday as their candidate for the Iowa Senate District 30 seat recently vacated by by Sen. Jeff Danielson.
“I’m so honored and humbled by this whole process and all of the outpouring of support and enthusiasm folks have shown in such a short amount of time,” Gidden said as he accepted the nomination.
The county central committee met in a special convention. District 30 covers Cedar Falls, Hudson and portions of Waterloo.
Giddens, 45, of Cedar Falls, a program manager for the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa and a member of the Cedar Falls Board of Education, will run against a Republican and Libertarian candidate during a March 19 special election.
Danielson resigned from the position earlier this month for a position as American Wind Energy Association’s central region director.
Giddens beat four other hopefuls for the nomination, including Amy Petersen, a professor at the University of Northern Iowa; Sasha Wohlpart, a member of the Cedar Falls Board of Education; Tom Ralston, a former union leader and employee of John Deere; and John Berry, director of Tri-County Head Start.
Berry announced he was running Friday. He not attend Saturday’s event.
Giddens won on the final ballot with 55 percent of the vote. He won the first two rounds too, but without majority support.
“We’re all going to get behind Eric,” Wolhpart said.
Iowa Democratic Chairman Troy Price called the convention to order around 10:20 a.m. and a candidate was selected before noon. Each candidate spoke.
“I’m ready to get to work on day one,” Giddens said. “We have to hold this seat, and I’m the person that can do it.”
Price was pleased to see so many candidates and people involved in the special election.
“It’s always great to see so much interest,” Price said. “The fact that it went to three ballots just demonstrates the strength of all the candidates.”
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Price said the Iowa Democratic Party is putting its full support behind Giddens. The Black Hawk County Democrats plan to start door knocking today at noon.
“We’re not going to miss a beat,” Price said. “I’ll be up here as much as I can be.”
Black Hawk County Democrats Chairwoman Vikki Brown has been involved throughout the process, putting together a candidate forum last week and helping put together the convention Saturday.
“We came out of it with a fantastic nominee,” Brown said. “All of the candidates were equally qualified and spectacular, and we’re glad that we have our nominee now and we’re going to do what need to do to make certain we hold this seat.”
The Cedar Valley’s other state senator, Bill Dotzler, was present and pushed for community involvement to get Giddens elected.
“It’s going to be work and it’s going to be a fight, don’t kid yourself,” Dotzler said before Giddens won the nomination. He noted District 30 had always been a Republican district before Danielson was elected.
“He only won by 22 votes,” Dotzler said.
Former House Rep. Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls, who was defeated by Danielson in that first run, has announced he will seek the Republican nomination for the seat. Republicans will hold their special convention Monday at Upper Iowa University for Republican Central Committee members.
Giddens is also involved in the Aldo Leopold Distinguished Lecture Series Planning Committee, Imagining America Steering Committee, Dry Run Creek Advisory Board, Cedar Falls Food Co-op’s Investment Campaign Committee, Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa’s Scholarship Selection Committee, and Cedar Valley Activate.
His wife, Kendra, is a Cedar Valley native and a former teacher in the Cedar Falls School District. Their son, Henry, is an eighth-grader at Peet Junior High in Cedar Falls.
Libertarian candidate Fred Perryman also has announced his candidacy.
Candidates have until March 5 to file to run in the election.
“We’re ready to do this,” Giddens said.