Legislator, businessman, and attorney Art Small was born in 1933 in Brunswick, Maine, the son of a biscuit salesman. Art made the money to put himself through Bowdoin College by working as a newspaper delivery person, a self-employed handyman, a drugstore clerk, a lifeguard, a trumpet player, a dishwasher and a construction worker. At the age of 20 he enlisted in the Army Security Agency and served for three years ending his period of enlistment at a station located in Germany near the Czechoslovakian border. Later he finished college and did his graduate work with G.I. Bill funds.
The holder of a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Iowa, he has written extensively over the years, producing op-ed pieces for newspapers as well as plays and poetry for his own enjoyment. He has also tutored football players at the University of Iowa, worked as a night hotel clerk in Iowa City, and taught English at St. Ambrose College.
Art Small has always been interested in public service, so from 1965 to 1966 he served as Legislative Assistant to Congressman John Schmidhauser of Iowa’s First Congressional District. Having this taste of the legislative life led Small to seek elective office himself, and in 1971 he found himself a new member of the Iowa House of Representatives, as a Democrat representing Johnson County. He served in the House for eight years, and then ran for the Iowa Senate in 1978 where he served until 1986. During his tenure in the Legislature he earned his J.D. degree from the University of Iowa College of Law.
Art Small practiced law in an Iowa City firm starting in 1983 and in a Des Moines firm after he left the Senate in 1986. He also conducted a solo practice for several years until he partnered with another attorney.
As well as having been a practicing lawyer, Small has had extensive experience as a businessman. Before he was elected to the Legislature and during his first term in office he was the Director of Survey Services for Westinghouse Learning Corporation. Later, in the 1970’s, he owned and ran a printing business in Coralville. In 1986 he purchased, rehabilitated and resold a landmark office building in downtown Iowa City. In 1992 he became the owner of the Iowa Legislative News Service which he sold in 2000.
Given his varied business experience, Small understands what it is to meet a payroll and work hard for a living. He believes that government has an important part to play in helping people get decent jobs, an education and affordable health care.
In announcing his candidacy, Art Small pointed out that he and Senator Chuck Grassley have vastly different backgrounds and ideas about the role of government. “Senator Grassley is a career politician who has been in public office continually for 46 years, since 1958,” Small said in April 2004. “He and I are as different as night and day, not only in background and experience, but in how we would represent the people of Iowa. I will give the voters a clear choice.”
Small reminds Iowans that Senator Grassley calls himself “the chief tax mechanic of the U.S. Senate” and led the charge to give large tax breaks to the nation’s most wealthy. Small points out that billionaire investor Warren Buffett himself protested against the tax cuts the wealthy received because, as he wrote in a widely published article, while the tax cuts not only meant that his considerable investment income was taxed at a lower rate than his secretary’s income that she had to work for, he also received a $310 million tax windfall last year while his secretary received little benefit.
“I never would have supported such an unfair tax cut,” Small said. “Obviously no one is fond of taxes and when I served in the Iowa General Assembly I successfully fought to remove the sales tax on food and drugs and provide property tax relief for low income elderly. Also, as chair of the Iowa Senate appropriations committee I successfully passed, with large bipartisan support, a budget that spent significantly less than the budget proposed by Governor Branstad. If you cut taxes, you must also be willing to cut budgets. It is pleasant to cut taxes and voters like you when you do; it is very difficult to cut budgets and voters tend not to like it when you do.”
“But I also recognize that taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. In particular, I have always supported funding for education. Unless we educate the next generation, our nation has no future. Unlike Senator Grassley, I would have voted in favor of funding the No Child Left Behind Act. His vote has left Iowa’s educational system strapped for funds.”
These are but some of the many differences in policy stands between Small and Grassley. Voters will have a clear choice in November.
Art Small and his wife Mary Jo met while both were graduate students at the University of Iowa. They have been married for 43 years and have three grown children and four grandchildren.
Mary Jo came to the University of Iowa as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in 1959. Beginning in 1969 she worked in a number of administrative positions at the University. Before her retirement in 2000, she held the position of Associate Vice President for Finance for a number of years. She also served in leadership roles in a number of organizations, some local and some national. She was as a member of the Board, as Treasurer and as President of the Board of Good Will Industries of South East Iowa. She held the same offices on the St. Thomas More Parish Council. She also was a member of the Board and Treasurer of the Society for Values in Higher Education, and a member of the board of the Americans for Democrat Action. She has been an active volunteer for the Democratic Party and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1972 and to the national Mid-Term Conference in 1978.
In recognition of her support for University staff and University related child care needs, before she retired the University established the Mary Jo Small Fellowship for university staff and one of the University-affiliated day care centers was renamed in her honor.
Their oldest son Peter is a graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law and lives in Des Moines where he practices law and serves as a Spanish language interpreter. Their daughter Martha has her Ph.D. from Stanford in Materials Science and Engineering and works for Agilent Corp. in Ft. Collins, Colorado. She is married and has three children. She and her husband, who is also an engineer, recently returned to the U.S. after working for 3 1/2 years on assignment for Agilent at a semi-conductor company in Singapore. Their son Art earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University, where he teaches and does research on environmental economics and finance. He is married to a librarian and they have one child.