76th District House seat: it’s a three-way race to the finish


Nina Baker

Democrat Sarah Smith and Independent Kamal Hammouda are challenging Republican incumbent Dave Maxwell to represent District 76 in the Iowa House of Representatives.

Hammouda, 68, owner of the Grinnell restaurant Relish, announced his challenge to Maxwell in January of 2020. Hammouda said that the Muslim and immigrant voices of Iowa go unheard by both major parties, which inspired him to run as an independent. If elected, Hammouda would be the only Muslim immigrant in the Iowa Legislature.

Though Hammouda recognizes the difficulty of winning an election as an independent in a three-person race, he doesn’t think that should prevent him from mounting a strong campaign against Maxwell, 77. Hammouda is running on a platform that centers environmental protection, expanding access to healthcare and increasing the quality of public schools.

Smith, 44, who works as the Director of Outreach Programs and Events at Grinnell College and serves on the board of the Grinnell-Newburg School Foundation, announced her candidacy in February of 2020. She’s running on a platform of fully funding public education in Iowa, expanding internet access for rural Iowans and ensuring “accessible and affordable” healthcare.

Smith also supports incentives for clean-energy companies to come to Iowa, and training for Iowans to obtain renewable energy jobs. If elected, she would support increased funding for research and water monitoring to improve Iowa’s water quality.

Maxwell, who works as a farmer and owns Maxwell Tiling, was first elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 2012. In a statement to the Grinnell League of Women Voters (LWV), which hosted a forum for local candidates that Maxwell did not attend, he described himself as “a common sense fiscal conservative who believes in less government and more personal responsibility.” Maxwell’s re-election platform is based around what he says is the need for experienced lawmakers during the COVID-19 pandemic.