Senator Janet Petersen

Janet Petersen is serving her third term in the Iowa Senate, and previously served six terms in the Iowa House of Representatives. She represents Senate District 18, which includes the Beaverdale, Merle Hay, downtown and Racoon River areas in Des Moines. 

Janet was the first woman elected to serve as Iowa Senate Democratic Leader (2017-2020).

Whether it’s sponsoring and passing Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, advancing stronger domestic abuse prevention laws, fighting to extend the statute of limitations for abuse victims, helping Iowans get better healthcare, or cracking down on corruption in state government, Janet knows how to bring people together and push policy ideas that matter.

Janet is a passionate advocate for children and families. As a young girl, she saw first-hand how life can change in an instant when her dad died of melanoma. Fortunately for Janet and her sister Barb, their mom had an education to fall back on, which prevented them from slipping into poverty. That is one of the reasons Janet is a supporter of public education and equal pay for equal work.

Janet’s mom has always been a strong, steady force in her life. She taught her the importance of showing up for people, just as friends, family and neighbors did for them when they needed help. Janet carries that belief with her, showing up for Iowans with policies that can help them succeed and regain their footing when life throws an unexpected curveball.

Outside of the Legislature, Janet founded a nonprofit organization called Healthy Birth Day, Inc., with four other Des Moines-area moms. The organization is best known for its Count the Kicks campaign that educates parents-to-be on how to track their babies’ movements to reduce their risk of stillbirth. Its lifesaving message has spread around the globe with parents-to-be using the free Count the Kicks app in all 50 states and 150 countries.

Janet lives north of Beaverdale, not far from where she grew up, with her husband Brian Pattinson, an Ames native, and their three kids – Charlie, Maggie and Buck.

Janet serves on the following committees:

Contact Senator Petersen at or follow her on social media.

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