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Prairie City News

From doughnuts to discussion: Nieland and Breckenridge join Alleger for Coffee with the Mayor

Each month, Prairie City Mayor Chad Alleger sits down with his constituents at the Prairie City Public Library on a Saturday morning to hear what’s on their minds. On Saturday, Alleger and a handful of active citizens braved the pouring rain and thunder to talk about local issues since their last meeting and to greet Representative Wes Breckenridge (D-29) and Dan Nieland, Democratic candidate for Senate District 15. The hot coffee and a big box of doughnuts helped.

Nieland is the Democrat’s third candidate for this race. Channel 5 interviewed Nieland for a six-minute slot that aired Sunday morning.

“A minute of it was spent trying to help them understand how I got on the ballot in the first place,” Nieland joked.

Now that he has started smoothing over the turmoil that surrounded the Democrats’ candidate selection, he’s starting to get the word out about his platform and delving into the issues that Senate District 15 constituents face. Informal meetings like the one in Prairie City are ideal.

Young children chewed on doughnuts as big as their faces and built Lego structures while their parents chatted with the politicians about everything from street lighting to bike trails to Mayor Alleger’s parents bringing him cases of Yuengling beer when they visit from Pennsylvania.

Nieland observed and asked questions. He asked how tariffs would affect farmers in this area, about what utilities Prairie City includes in its water bills and which lot the library will use for its expansion.

When the conversation turned to assisted living and nursing homes, Breckenridge and Alleger filled him in.

“Once your journey is at its end, you’ve been here your whole life, but you have to go to

Newton, or you have to go to Altoona or Pleasant Hill. Their family, a lot of people, their families are here in Prairie City,” Alleger said.

Nieland reflected for a moment. “I didn’t even think of that.”

Sue Ponder, director of the library, has been making calls and trying to figure out how other rural communities secure funding for these facilities for months. After bandying ideas about, the group hit upon contacting larger organizations, like WesleyLife, with networks of assisted care facilities to discuss the possibility of attracting a satellite care facility to Prairie City.

As much as Nieland learned about the people of Prairie City Saturday morning, they also got to know him. He and his wife, Leesa, operate a horse farm in Altoona. He’s been teaching entrepreneurship and business courses, mainly to high school juniors and seniors through the career academy program that allows them to earn college credit while still in high school, at the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Southridge Center for six years.

Because of his experience teaching, his platform centers around education and job readiness.

“The key is education by far, being in education myself. But with a different vision, different direction. Really putting people back at the forefront.”

In addition to taking the opportunity to learn more about issues and introduce himself to constituents, he also used this time to get to know the communities. During a lull in the conversation, Nieland asked about the local hardware store that’s closing its doors. For a moment, everyone paused the political conversation to lament a lost landmark.

Contact Phoebe Marie Brannock at 649-712-3121 Ext. 6547 or

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