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The Scarlet & Black

Former SGA Prez now Iowa Rep

At Grinnell, Chris Hall ’07 was elected President of the Student Gvoernment Association. On Tuesday, November 2, Hall won his election to represent Iowa’s second district, part of his native Sioux City, in the Iowa House. He spoke on the phone with the S&B’s Avery Rowlison about being elected a state rep. and his experiences at Grinnell.

How does it feel to be an elected official?

Some parts of it are still settling in. But it’s exciting. I’d say the best part of it right now is the fact that my family and friends have been able to take part in the victory and they really are proud of the accomplishment and that for me is a lot of what the victory is supposed to feel like. I’m glad for them just as much as I am for myself and also excited and looking forward to delving headlong into learning new policy and really trying to make a difference.

Is the feeling similar to that when you were elected SGA president?

Yes, it’s similar in the excitement. There’s so much more to learn in this one [position], just as far as it’s a practical education in probably ten or twelve different areas of policy, everything from tax policy to economics and infrastructure, education, and all these different areas that are really, in a lot of ways, newer to me. The sense of excitement is very similar, except that there is also just an initial feeling of really still having so much to do. Even though the campaign has concluded now, it is still a steady drumbeat of things that I still have to be working on and making sure that I’m on top of. So I’ve had to hit the ground running. So it’s similar in some ways, yeah.

What was your experience like as SGA president?

I had a fantastic time. It was probably the best thing I did at Grinnell. I was telling people when I left that if I could do it for another year, I would. I learned about how the institution, how the college operated, all of the things that as a student I didn’t necessarily think about on a day-to-day basis, and it was such a neat way to learn about the college and all of the different pieces of the puzzle that go into making it work and really operate as we see Grinnell on a day-to-day basis. It was one of the best things that I ever did and still actually one of the, I’d say, formative pieces of how I’ve come to be and of how I consider and approach things.

What are your initial plans after you’re sworn into office?

Sioux City, my hometown and where I represent, we’re in a pretty tough spot right now because of the economy. We’ve, I think, taken the brunt of it much more than a lot of other communities in our state. We’re a pretty blue collar, traditionally manufacturing or packing house kind of town, and so when I’m sworn in, I am truly just going try and be the best advocate for bringing some sort of progress or bringing some new thing to Sioux City that’ll hopefully turn it around sooner rather than later. I’m working on buffing up on a lot of the policy right now so that hopefully once I am sworn in I can be productive even as a member of the minority, hopefully working to make an impact for the city.

How do you think your education and experiences at Grinnell have helped prepare you for your new position?

I would say Grinnell really gave me the chance to be interested in a number of different things, it was a chance to take classes and learn about things outside of your major, outside of your specialty. It gave me the chance to really approach a lot of different things and make sure that I was broadly interested in just learning, and I’d say that’s one of the things that I’m looking forward to most with this position. It’s similar in the fact that I might be able to find an area where I really want to make a specific impact, but I’ll be able to have a hand in and/or dabble in five or six different areas. Grinnell was similar in the education way.

The other part of it is just that I’m a lifelong Iowan, and Grinnell is a huge part of that. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I graduated from Grinnell, and also that I am an Iowan. But there’re a lot of wonderful things In Grinnell, as a community, just in the sense of belonging to somewhere, that have stuck with me.

Is there any advice you’d like to offer to current students who are interested in running for office someday?

Kind of an interesting one that I hadn’t really thought about is never shy away from opportunity and always be willing to submit to the experience. It’s been different than what I expected initially, but it also has been wonderful. I’d just say never shy away from opportunity.

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