Iowa State alumnus runs campaign for Congress – Iowa State Daily: News

At a large university like Iowa State, students often blend inand go unnoticed by classmates and professors. however, retiredCol. EJ Otero was not that type of student.

“He had strong leadership skills at Iowa State and I knew thatafter graduation he would be doing something more than just gettinga job,” said Steffen Schmidt, university professor of politicalscience, who had Otero in his Latin American politics and Americangovernment classes at Iowa State.

Schmidt recalled that Otero would often stay after class to askhim additional questions.

“He was a focused student,” he said. “He knew where he was goingand concentrated very hard on making sure he would make itthere.”

Otero, who was a freshman in 1978, came to Iowa State from hishometown of Tampa, Fla., with the intention of becoming aveterinarian. during his freshman year, he decided to take ajournalism class, as well as a political science class, and fell inlove with them both.

Otero immediately made the decision to switch majors andgraduated in 1982 with a double major in journalism and masscommunications and political science.

During his time at Iowa State, Otero was involved with the ROTCprogram, which he cited as being “a truly fabulous experience as ayoung man and a student.” In addition, Otero was also a studentsenator for the Government of the Student Body and occasionallywrote for the Iowa State Daily.

After graduating from Iowa State, Otero spent 28 years in theAir Force, 22 of which were active duty. His early duties includedassignments to the U.S. Pacific Command, as chief of TacticalAnalysis Teams at the U.S. embassies in Ecuador and Colombia,senior analyst counter-narcotics and terrorism analyst at theNational Security Agency, Space Satellite Development officer inthe Air Staff at the Pentagon, and tours in Italy and Greece.

Then came Otero’s most life-changing experience: 9/11.

“I showed up at my office in the morning, hoping it would beanother regular day,” Otero said. “By the end of the day, we wereat war.”

Immediately following 9/11, Otero was sent to Qatar, where hewould spend three tours for Operation Enduring Freedom andOperation Iraqi Freedom. during this time, Otero initially servedas co-leader of the team responsible for establishing theintelligence support at the Command Forward Headquarters inQatar.

In 2005, after serving as Deputy Chief Operations Branch Officerand Division Chief for Intelligence Operations, Otero was namedChief of Coalition Intelligence. In this position, he developed anintelligence-sharing framework with our coalition allies.

Otero spent his final four years in the Air Force working forthe U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. He was in chargeof international engagement dedicated to developing agreements withequivalent Special Operations Commands around the world, to supportworldwide U.S. military efforts.

Experiences at Iowa State and in the Air Force have now ledOtero to his newest challenge, running for Congress in Florida’s11th District.

With a strong group of supporters taking the journey with him,the campaign process has been enjoyable for Otero thus far.

“It has been a wonderful experience to see people believe thatwe can do things together to improve the country,” Otero said.

If this ISU alumnus is elected, he is committed to advocatingfor a better economy, a strong defense system and congressionalreform.

Advocating for a better economy is his biggest goal. He hopes tomake Tampa an international trade center.

“Trade is the key to improving the U.S. economy, at this point,”Otero said.

As for congressional reform, Otero believes congress membersshouldn’t overstay their welcome. “Politics is something you shoulddo for a limited amount of time to help your country, and then moveon. it should not be a lifelong career,” he said.

In addition to his plans for the economy and congressionalreform, Otero hopes to improve the defense department. While heagrees that budget cuts need to be made in the defense department,he doesn’t think it should be the only department giving upfunding.

“All departments need to be on the table to have budget cuts,not just the defense department,” Otero said.

Schmidt said, as an ISU student, Otero showed many signs of whatit takes to be successful in Congress. “He was very likeable, andhe could communicate with anyone. that is going to be huge for himin his run for Congress,” Schmidt said. “Congress often acts on aday-to-day basis, EJ thinks strategically, which is very important.We need more people in Congress who can do that.”

Retired Col. Cleopatra Engel, who was a lead intelligenceplanner at the U.S. Central Command and a close friend of Otero,echoed Schmidt’s confidence in him.

“He is very intelligent, a hard worker and a great communicator.He has always treated everyone equally,” Engel said.

Despite his distance from the school, Otero credits much of hissuccess, both in the Air Force and in his current campaign forCongress, to Iowa State.

“The reason I am the man I am today is because of Iowa StateUniversity. There is no question about it,” Otero said.

Iowa State alumnus runs campaign for Congress – Iowa State Daily: News


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