November 26, 2022

Shipley, Sorensen enter Union County

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series about the four state legislators representing Union County after redistricting.

Having been in the cattle industry, Tom Shipley knows what it is like crossing the pastures to make sure all the head are accounted.

As a state senator starting his ninth year, Shipley will have a similar feeling having to cross additional area meeting with all his constituents.

Union County had had been represented with one state senator and one state representative. Non-partisan redistricting, which is done after the U.S. Census every 10 years, changed that beginning with the 2022 election and legislative session. Union County will have two senators and two representatives. Shipley is one of the senators when the session begins in January.

“It increased by about 1,000 square miles,” he said about his new district boundaries. “I think (Amy) Sinclair has the largest area to cover. I’m close, if I’m not second.”

Sinclair is the other senator representing Union County. Her district includes the Union County townships along the Clarke County line and most of the Adair County line.

Shipley said the new territory doesn’t bring new issues for him since the demographics of his new district are similar to his previous. Shipley’s district includes Cass, Montgomery, Adams, Page, Taylor and Ringgold counties.

“When I had Pottawattamie County, there were people outside of Council Bluffs. I don’t think their issues are different than what’s in Mount Ayr, as an example. Now, the district is more similar with culture and interests,” he said. “Dallas County is vastly different than Corydon.”

That comment was in reference to Senator Amy Sinclair whose district is in both of those places.

“She has a wealth of experience,” he said. “She will be president of the Senate and we are very fortunate.”

Shipley said he’s interested in finding more funding sources for road and bridge repair.

Also new to Union County is Rep. Ray “Bubba” Sorensen. Sinclair and Sorensen both have the Union County townships of Lincoln, Dodge, New Hope, Jones and Pleasant. Sorensen’s district includes Adair, Madison and a portion of Dallas counties. First-year legislator Devon Wood is the other representative for the remainder of Union County.

Wood, Shipley and Sorensen won their respective seats with the election earlier this month. All are Republicans.

Sorensen was born in Creston and was first elected to state legislature in 2018.

Growing up in Adair County, Union County is not new to him, but realized the results of Iowa’s population losses and shifts reflects in the district boundaries.

“I think they have tried and kept counties whole, which is why Union County was whole for so long. But now Dallas County is splintered. Look at Polk, it’s fractured.”

Sorensen said the districts show how the populations have changed. She said Sinclair’s district stretches from her home near the Missouri border to Dallas County.

“I’ve worked with Sinclair on multiple bills. With 150 legislators, you will usually cross paths with them on an issue,” he said.

Sorensen said one of his issues working with economic development is growth and access of broadband internet connections for more Iowans, especially rural areas.

“When I was elected, and that was pre COVID, we were struggling with rural Iowa getting broadband connections. I scraped and clawed for $5 million. Then COVID hit,” he said.

After COVID hit, the masses were working from home and online shopping grew even more.

“We garnered a $100 million appropriation,” Sorensen said about funding ways to expand broadband. “COVID was awful, but it illustrated how deficient we were in broadband and meat processing. This is what we need to fix it.”

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.