Paul Thelen talks about his priorities for Iowa during a campaign event in Denison.
Paul Thelen talks about his priorities for Iowa during a campaign event in Denison.
March 20, 2014


Paul Thelen, a 1997 Kuemper Catholic High School alum, launched his campaign for the Iowa House of Representatives Saturday at Reiney's Soda Fountain in Denison.

Thelen, 35, of Vail, is a legal and political consultant. A son of Lawrence and Cecelia Thelen of Vail, he grew up on a farm east of that community.

He is seeking the Iowa House District 18 seat, which consists of Shelby County and parts of Crawford and Harrison counties. It is an open seat, and Thelen is currently the lone Democratic candidate. Republicans Dillon Malone of Dow City and Steven Holt of Denison are running in a contested GOP primary.

"Our government should work better," Thelen said. "And I think our current elected officials - the governor, legislators, everyone - are trying their best to make it work. It has become a typical, tired strategy for politicians to say government is the problem. Having 21 percent of our bridges rated structurally deficient is a problem. Having the worst rate of any state in educational improvement since 1992 is a problem - and the answer isn't simply spending more taxpayer money. District 18 is dynamic with farms, towns, schools, small and large businesses, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, and the list goes on. My experiences have prepared me to serve these dynamic interests at home and in Des Moines."

Thelen is a graduate of Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and the University of Iowa College of Law. As a doctoral candidate, he taught at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and was a fellow at the Center for Leadership.

In addition to being an educator, Thelen has worked as a consultant for nonprofit and for-profit organizations, as well as political campaigns. He is a member of the Denison Young Professionals and is working with them to produce a summer leadership program. You may also see him on the stage at the Donna Reed Theatre in two of their upcoming productions.

In 1999, on the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's visit to Carroll, Thelen produced a one-man show honoring Kennedy.

Thelen said he is in the process of moving to Denison.