Elected twice by the citizens of Iowa to serve as the state’s chief executive officer, Tom Vilsack is the nation’s senior Democratic governor. He was the first Democrat in more than 30 years to be elected to the post in 1998. Vilsack is recognized as an innovator on children’s, economic, and healthcare policy and making government more efficient and accessible.
As governor, his priorities reflect an agenda dedicated to the principles of opportunity, responsibility and security. He is an effective champion for the safety and security of children and creating future opportunities through economic development that enhance communities. Iowa is now a national leader in health insurance coverage with more than 90 percent of children covered. The state is recognized for its strong K-12 education system including aggressive early childhood programs, reduced classroom sizes, a first in the nation salary initiative to improve teacher quality and student achievement. Further, Vilsack has been committed to more rigorous high school curriculum.
Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, the state’s largest and most effective economic development initiative ever. The Fund is a comprehensive economic growth strategy focused on creating and retaining jobs in targeted sectors such as life sciences, financial services, and advanced manufacturing across the state. In addition, his $270 million Vision Iowa program has brought more than $2 billion in investments to communities across Iowa to enhance the cultural and recreational quality of life. Vilsack’s innovative energy policy led to the construction of Iowa’s first power facility in two decades and has made the state one of the nation’s leaders in renewable energy. Vilsack’s groundbreaking strategy to reform Medicaid in Iowa will result in expanded healthcare security for 30,000 additional Iowans in 2005.
Vilsack’s career in public service began in 1987 when he was elected mayor of Mt. Pleasant in a special election following the violent murder of the incumbent mayor. He was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992.
Six Democratic governors were elected during Vilsack’s chairmanship of the Democratic Governors Association in 2004 while simultaneously breaking historic fundraising goals for the organization. He serves as a member of the National Governors Association Executive Committee and as the Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council.
A native of Pittsburgh, Governor Vilsack was born into an orphanage and adopted in 1951. He received a bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, in 1972 and earned his law degree from Albany Law School in 1975. He moved to Mt. Pleasant, his wife, Christie’s, hometown where he practiced law. The Vilsack’s two sons, Jess and Doug grew up in Mt. Pleasant.