Bonus online election coverage: Spirit Lake residents vie for Iowa House District 1 seat

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Voters in the northern half of Dickinson County have a contested race to decide who serves the area in the Iowa House of Representatives.


Incumbent Republican John Wills of Spirit Lake is seeking his third term serving northwest Iowa in Des Moines. Iowa House District 1 includes Lyon County, Osceola County, in addition to the northern portion of Dickinson County.

In the Iowa House, Wills serves on the Administration and Rules, Agriculture, Commerce, Natural Resources and Transportation committees.

He was first elected as a House Assistant Majority Leader in 2015 and remained in that role for the 2018 legislative session.

Wills grew up in Sibley, graduated from Sibley Community High School and earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Northwestern College in Orange City. He also holds two master's degrees. Wills and his wife, Cami, have three adult children.

John has been involved in water quality and conservation work for more than 20 years. He is past president of the Okoboji Protective Association and works to protect water resources. He retired from the National Guard after 25 years, serving numerous deployments overseas.

He also is a founding member of Pheasants Forever in Osceola County, and a member of the State Pheasants Forever Council. Other memberships include Friends of Lakeside Lab and Veterans of Foreign War.


Democrat Karen A. Larson of Spirit Lake formally announced her candidacy in February for the District 1 Iowa House of Representatives seat.

Larson became professor emerita as she retired to Spirit Lake in 2012, after teaching cultural anthropology at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, for 35 years. She is a lifelong Lutheran. She has done field research in Europe, North America and Asia, acted as a terrorism consultant for the federal government and instructed her own martial arts school. Larson is the proud mom of two grown children, Christopher and Laura.

Her campaign theme is "Centered on Community." Her concern is to support vibrant Iowa communities built on reliable health care, good education and thriving local businesses with good jobs.

"Such communities can carry traditional Iowa values of neighborliness, mutual regard and open communication into the future," she said. "I see Iowa’s state legislature — its political center — as one of those communities, a place where keeping traditional values can improve our state."      

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