“Becoming a Senator”
I’ve always been interested in politics and public service and I was always involved in student government, in going all the way back to junior high. I was a student body president at Iowa Central Community College, I believe it was in the 60’s. What a time to be coming of age, it was the worst of decades. A better writer than I wrote, “the best of times, the worst of time”. That quote made me start formulating, where do I fit into this whole play. I think it probably goes back to high school, mid-60’s were very formative years for me. I had a teacher that could see that I had some leadership potential and some interest, he got me involved in politics and I still stay in touch with him. Lee Campbell is his name and he probably more than anybody inspired me to this, just within a period of a couple of years I changed dramatically. In 1966 I was working on a congressional staff congressman stand grade one term-er from Sioux City a Democrat. I remember we were in the Longworth House Office Building and I could look out my window and across the street was the Cannon House Office Building and they were still having the HUAC Committee meetings the House Un-American Activities and the Capitol cops were taking long hair hippies out too. I thought this is a patriotic war. I got to visit the White House Ladybird’s showed me the upstairs. So, I wasn’t very sympathetic and one year, 1966, the year later I was in Peace Corps training. I became very active in the anti Vietnam war movement and the 1968 Democratic convention was just the cops beating the young people. I would have been on the outside probably getting my head beaten. That really gelled me to try to make a difference politically. The decade of the 70s, it didn’t make any difference where you were on the political spectrum. Whether you’re Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, whether you’re Bobby Kennedy or John Kennedy, George Lincoln Rockwell, the American Nazi leader George Wallace but assassination just seemed to be a way of life. The Vietnam War and the Chicago Convention and all of the awful stuff that came out of the 60s and a lot of good came out of it too, at the beginning. Well civil rights was at the forefront, during this time we created Medicaid and Medicare, Homes Head-start and Peace Corps. Technologically we landed on the moon and there was a lot of political unrest and this was what formulated my views.
Two books that I read as a youngster really caught my attention, it was either in high school or junior high. I will only be talking about one of those books because I do not remember the other one. So, it was “To Kill a Mockingbird”, it that book was very formative. I grew up in a very white community, I haven’t really met an African-American. In my community we had Karmi Irvine and a Mexican American, who married a white guy, she was the only racial diversity we had in summers and I guess a lot of my political views were formed then. I also majored in Political Science and taught it. So in the back of my mind, I have always wanted to run for the legislature. In 2002, I ran for the state senate. My first opponent was a woman who was a former educator and I soundly defeated her. I served for four years, my first two years we were in the minority, after that I was re-elected twice. I wasn’t defeated until 2014, largely that was because of reappointment, which I voted for. It was fair but it gave me two very Republican counties, I usually carried the area with all the Scandinavian Lutherans. They were very republican also but most of them knew me. Then they gave me Humble and Pocahontas counties and these people were republican while I am a democrat and they didn’t know me on top of that. So that is why I do not say I was defeated, I say “I involuntarily retired”.