SONJA LARSEN (1941- )
1 linear foot plus audiovisual materials and artifacts
The papers (donor no.645) were donated by Sonja Larsen in 1999.
The papers are open for research.
One audiocassette located in audiocassette collection [AC883].
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred
Emily Broeckling, 2003 [LarsenSonja.doc] .
Larsen, state representative from 1979-1980, board member of the Iowa League of
Women Voters and mayoral candidate for the city of Ottumwa, was born in 1941 to
Einar and Marie Leistad in
Elk Horn, Iowa. Sonja Leistad graduated from Elk Horn-Kimballton
Schools in 1959. In 1960, she married
Richard Larsen, and the couple moved to
Larsen worked as a real estate agent
from 1973-1980. She served on the
Ottumwa Board of Realtors, where she became active in lobbying efforts through
the Legislative Action committee. As a
member of the Ottumwa Chamber of Commerce, Larsen served on the urban-rural
development committee, chairing special projects such as Ag Day. Larsen also became the first president of the
Ottumwa League of Women Voters. Other
community activities include serving as first president of the Ottumwa Girls
Softball League, president of the Ottumwa Newcomers Club, executive board
member of the Iowa Junior Miss Development Corporation, program director for
the YMCA, and volunteering with the
Larsen was recruited to run for office by Governor Robert Ray. Her previous political experience was limited to serving as a delegate at county, district and state Republican conventions. In 1979, Larsen was elected by a small margin to represent the 89th district of Iowa, a district heavily dominated by Democrats. During her tenure as a Republican representative in the state legislature, Larsen distinguished herself as a staunch supporter of lower state taxes. Larsen sponsored bills designed to reimburse elderly Iowans for property taxes, develop veteran exemptions from property taxes, push for the adoption of a balanced budget amendment to the U. S. constitution, establish group insurance for families of public employees, reduce mobile home taxes for the elderly, and require private agencies receiving state grants or contracts to submit to an audit prior to receipt of those funds. She also supported the 1979 “indexed” income tax adjustment that was designed to be responsive to inflation rates, a bill to increase the pay of elected officials, efforts to increase exemptions from the state inheritance tax, and a reduction in unemployment compensation. Larsen supported efforts to put the Equal Rights Amendment on the ballot and was pro-choice, despite her identity as a loyal Republican.
In 1981, Larsen campaigned
unsuccessfully for mayor of
Scope and Content Note
The Sonja Larsen papers date from 1977 to 1982 and measure 1 linear foot. The papers are arranged in five series: Political campaigns, Political career, Post-political career, Photographs, and Artifacts.
campaigns series comprises Larsen’s campaigns for state representative and
her campaign for mayor of
The Political career series spans Larsen’s tenure as an elected official, dating from 1977-1982. This series includes literature relating to Larsen’s position on proposed legislation, particularly on issues such as abortion, education, creationism, the ERA, and conservation of natural resources. The series also comprises constituent contact records, the text of proposed legislation for which Larsen was a sponsor, a legislative handbook, newsletters, newspaper clippings, press releases and speeches.
The Post-political career series dates from 1981-1982 and includes correspondence relating to Larsen’s electoral defeat in 1980 and continued involvement in politics through her editorship of the Wapello County Republican News, as well as newspaper clippings.
The Photographs series dates from the late 1970s and consists primarily of campaign photographs and shots of Larsen at speaking engagements.
The Artifacts series includes campaign materials, nametags, and a guest book from a 1978 fundraiser.
Box no. Description
Campaign plan, 1980
1980 and undated
Finances, 1978 and 1980-1981
Newspaper clippings, 1981
Official campaign documents, 1977-1981
Publicity, 1977-1978 and undated
Supporters, 1978 and 1980
Abortion, 1978-1979 and undated
Bike paths, 1979
1980 and undated
Equal Rights Amendment, 1976 and 1979-1980
House joint subcommittee on forestry, 1974 and 1978-1980
House Republican news, 1981
League of Women Voters
Legislative handbook, 1972 and 1979
Pilot project, 1979-1980
Pre-audit bill, 1979
Press releases, 1980
Speeches, 1980 and undated
Newspaper clippings, 1981-1982
Circa late 1970s
“Elect Sonja Larsen”
Campaign pin and nametags
Child’s campaign t-shirt
Felt campaign flag
Guest book, 1978-1980