He has represented a large swath of Lee County since 2009.
KEOKUK — State Rep. Jerry Kearns said in a statement Tuesday he will not seek re-election in November after 10 years in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Kearns, a Democrat from Keokuk, represents Fort Madison, Keokuk, Montrose and a portion of rural Lee County in House District 83.
He is the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and has served in the Legislature since 2009.
"I am completing my 10th year in the House, and that is a reasonably long tenure for a citizen legislator," Kearns, 73, said in the statement. "I retired from my regular job last year and while I enjoy serving in the Legislature, I believe now is the time to step aside and make room for others to serve."
Kearns represents a traditionally Democratic area in southeast Iowa, but in 2016 Lee County broke for Republican President Donald Trump by more than 2,500 votes.
Before he was elected to the Iowa House, Kearns served 18 years on the Lee County Board of Supervisors.
"I have always been pleased to serve the public in whatever capacity I was involved, and appreciate the confidence placed in me in representing the citizens of Lee County in all these areas," he said in the statement. "I encourage those who might be interested in public service in the legislature to step forward in order that the citizens of District #83 may consider your candidacy."
Kearns told The Hawk Eye Tuesday he had been talking with his family over the last month whether he would run for re-election.
A primary election for state and federal offices will be held statewide June 5 and the general election will be Nov. 6.
No candidates on either side of the aisle has announced publicly a candidacy for Kearns' open seat.
"I was kind of surprised," said Lee County Democrats co-chairman Rick Larkin, "because I figured him being from Keokuk — and that district is made for someone from Keokuk — that he'd be in a lot longer."
Gary Folluo, a Lee County supervisor who served with Kearns, said he was "sad" to hear the legislator was retiring.
"He's an excellent representative and always has been for Lee County," Folluo said.
As to whether he was confident Kearns' seat would stay blue, "The way the the political field is right now," Folluo said, "I wouldn't count on anything."