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Drake alum runs for Iowa House

Laura Snider has a background in public defense. Her public defense roots have given her a drive to always support the “little person.” Photo courtesy of Chris Snider

Laura Snider is similar to most politicians: background in law, past work as a public defender, a current job as a prosecutor and deep opinions. However, her differences outweigh her similarities. 

Snider is among a growing number of politically active individuals who are unhappy with the government who feel the only thing left to do is step into the boxing ring themselves.   

A Drake University Law School graduate, Snider did not initially seek out politics or scout out ways to throw her hat into the ring to run for the Iowa House District 28, which makes up surrounding suburbs in Dallas County and is currently held by Republican David Young. 

Representative and House Minority Leader Jennifer Glover Konfrst believes Snider will be a good addition to the Iowa House. 

“She’s going to be a great contrast to David Young. She’s a local community leader. She believes in reproductive freedom. She believes in our public education system, and Representative David Young has consistently voted against those things,” Konfrst said. 

Snider filed for the June 4 primary election this past March. 

“I didn’t feel like I could in good conscience say no,” Snider said when approached by the Truman Fund, a candidate committee for the Iowa House, to be the contender on the Democratic ticket.  

The necessity for a new candidate and the current state of Iowa politics drove her to agree.

“[I’ve] got three kids in public school, and what I’m seeing happening in schools these days — the systematic defunding and asking teachers to do more with less and just piling more and more obligations on [teachers] and privatizing, moving money away from public schools — feels very synonymous to me to what happened with the public defender system,” Snider said. 

Public defense was a career Snider was sorry to leave, but it had become a strenuous profession to navigate with the increased hours required, as well as a growing family. However, her lawyer roots have propelled her to pursue notoriously challenging roles. 

“I am drawn to fighting for the little person, the person who doesn’t have a voice,” Snider said. “As a public defender, that is really what you’re doing. You’re propping up the people’s rights.”

Snider, a mental health advocate, has noted mental health services as one of the key issues her campaign is focusing on. In her current role as a prosecutor, she has seen first-hand the struggles that families have faced searching for mental health services, including inpatient committals.

“I’m really just tired of telling families and telling people who need help, ‘I’m sorry, the system’s broken,’ because that’s not a fair answer to Iowans,” Snider said.

Snider said state representatives should return to a governing style based on the interests of the people. 

“If the majority of my communities come to me and say, ‘You know what, I don’t want you to do this,’ as a representative of that community just like I’m a representative of the state of Iowa as an attorney, you don’t represent your own interests,” Snider said. “You are representing the interests of the people, the people who come to you. It should not be about your reelection. It should not be about you at all.”

The ethical obligations she practices in law have taken center stage when Snider speaks about potentially transferring to a second career in politics. 

“I’ve been in the court system a long time, and I’ve represented a lot of people I didn’t agree with, but I did what you need to do, what your ethical obligation is, and that is to represent those who have hired you and have elected you,” Snider said. 

Speaking on the AEA Bill that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds passed and signed into law, Snider expressed the same myriad of concerns as other opponents to the bill  in regard to  how this expansive law will affect the state of education in Iowa. 

“Almost everyone, even those that would be proponents of the bill, wanted the governor to pump the brakes on [the AEA bill]. Of course, there was a lot of resounding opposition to it, and what bothers me the most about it is that the Republicans down at the Statehouse did not listen,” Snider said.     

A Drake University Law School alumna, Snider worked for the Drake Criminal Defense Legal Clinic. She said she didn’t just learn law theory at Drake — she learned how to practice law first-hand. Snider knows how to be the most prepared person in the room. 

“[As a defense attorney] you and your client are fighting against the world, you’re the underdog, you’re not meant to win. You have to really fight hard to get a good solution,” Snider said.

Just like the client of a defense attorney, Snider is now politically in an underestimated position, she said. Her opponent is an incumbent, has worked in the State House longer and, according to Snider, has more cash flow coming through. But just as she would work for her client, Snider said she will work to be the most prepared person in the room, this time for herself.  

“Nobody is going to outwork me. I will outwork David Young, and I will get it done,” Snider said.

Editor’s note: Laura Snider is the wife of Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication professor Chris Snider.

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