Mark Segebart
Mark Segebart
Friday, November 2, 2012

Republican State Senate candidate Mark Segebart, a veteran Crawford County supervisor and Vail-area farmer, says he’s distressed with the loss of prime agricultural land in Iowa to commercial and residential development.

“I did say Carroll, Iowa, is a good example of it because there’s some marvelous farm ground over here that Carroll obviously is going to grow into,” Segebart said.

He added, “This is the best country in the world, and we’re covering it up with a parking lot.”

In terms of a state role in restricting such growth Segebart acknowledged that any action would be the height of government intervention.

“But when it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said.

The state should “think wisely” about regulating land use, Segebart said, adding the comprehensive plans from cities are one tool available for such a mission.

Should there be state controls on how farmland can be used after it is purchased?

“I’d certainly look into it, I think,” Segebart said. “Because we need to preserve that ground. It cannot be wasted. It’s more important to the future of this country to have good farmland and good crops and food. We feed the world here.”

Segebart, 62, a county supervisor since 1997, farms 800 acres in Crawford County with his brother Dwight. Mark Segebart owns 240 acres while Dwight Segebart holds 160 acres. They cash rent another 400 acres.

Segebart cited his more than 40 years in farming as a primary qualification for the job of  a state legislator who would represent Senate District 6, which includes Carroll, Audubon, Sac and Buena Vista counties and part of Crawford County.

Sticking on farming topics, Segebart said he is concerned that soaring commodity and land prices may have created something of an agricultural bubble.

“That balloon is plum full,” Segebart said.

Is the bubble going to burst?

“I think so,” he said. “What goes around, comes around.”

A primary concern Segebart said he’s absorbed from voters is the 100 percent rate at which commercial property is taxed.

“I hear that a lot,” he said.

Segebart said he would like see the commercial property tax rate drop to 50 percent to 60 percent of assessed valuation, perhaps going down in stages of 4 percent to 5 percent annually.

“If they’re coming in brand new they get it zero to start with, then put it in over 10 years that it goes up,” Segebart said. “And take the existing businesses and start backing their’s down.”

Segebart said he would not want to accidentally create a situation where established businesses would be placed at a disadvantage with new competitors and the lower taxes.

“That’s where you need to tread lightly,” Segebart said.

Segebart said he has worked tirelessly to hold down expenses in Crawford County. He said Crawford County supervisors’ salaries — now at $24,155, according to the auditor’s office in that county — rank 87th in the state, whereas the population of Crawford County is 43rd out of Iowa’s 99 counties.

“I don’t think our wage is out of line,” said Segebart, who added that he was offended by campaign materials suggesting he’d been a spendthrift on that matter.

Some of Segebart’s strongest rhetoric in the campaign has emerged on his opposition to gay marriage.

“Marriage between one man and one woman is the issue that I would die on, not gay marriage,” Segebart said. “I think it’s important that families are structured with both male and female parents for the children’s sake and that there’s a bond there that will help raise those kids.”

Segebart defines himself as “pro-life” on abortion. He would not make exceptions for legal abortions in the cases of rape and incest but would if the life of the mother is in jeopardy as a result of pregnancy.

“I don’t know if God intended it to happen,” Segebart said of children conceived through rape. “But life is always a gift from God no matter how it starts. I don’t think by aborting an innocent victim, as that newborn person would be, is the right thing to do.”

On the Second Amendment, Segebart said there shouldn’t be limits on firearms and ammunition purchases for law-abiding citizens. In fact, Segebart said he believes the July 20 massacre in Aurora, Colo., would have had a lower body county had another patron returned fire in the theater where a  heavily armed and armored shooter killed 12 people and wounded another 58.

“If there would have been one person there that could have defended himself, there wouldn’t have been the deaths that were there,” Segebart said.

He added, “Legal people being able to protect themselves will always be better than a population that has no ability to defend itself.”

On the speed limit, Segebart said he would support a long-running cause of current State Sen. Steve Kettering, R-Lake View, who wanted to increase the limit from 55 mph on two-lane highways. Segebart said the limit should be set at 60 mph.

Segebart is a native of Vail and a 1968 graduate of Ar-We-Va High School. He went on to Iowa State University where he graduated in 1972 with a bachelor of science degree in forestry.

Segebart and his wife, Cathie, have two children: Alex, 29, who works for Burke Co., in Nevada and helps with family farming in Crawford County; and Martha Gray, 34, an assistant business manager for a veterinary clinic in Green Bay, Wis.