Letter to the Editor

The end of town halls FOR 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This yearís legislative town halls in Spencer and the Lakes are now in the books, and a very good year it has been. My thanks go to the citizens of Clay and Dickinson counties and surrounding area. You came out in unprecedented numbers to engage in the democratic process that is the foundation of our representative republic.

The six town halls would not have been possible without the Spencer Chamber of Commerce, City of Spencer and forum sponsors, and the Great Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, City of Spirit Lake and Pearson Lakes Art Center. Special thanks to Becky Fear-Hatting and Jeff Thee for pulling it all together.

Last Saturday especially, it became very clear that my decision last June to change my voter registration from Republican to independent has resulted in an organized GOP attempt to discredit me Ė and thatís being polite. For example, in Spencer, Rep. John Wills began to accuse me of always being negative. I interrupted him, which drew some boos from the crowd, and so I backed off, apologized and took my lumps. Mr. Wills apparently sees nothing positive in the many bills I have introduced to protect our environment and provide services for the disabled, mentally ill and addicted, to name a few. He also seems to have forgotten that I helped him win his first election. Who says an elephant never forgets?

Later that morning in Spirit Lake, it was Congressman Steve Kingís turn with at least three staffers in tow. An audience member was worried about the coming changes in health insurance policy at the state and federal level. Not knowing where current talks in Washington stood, I turned to Mr. King and began asking a question when he rudely cut me off and took over the microphone. Like President Trump, Steve makes no apologies. I guess thatís what it means to be a member of the Freedom Caucus. Sadly, he went from there to tweet his usual wide-eyed, fear-mongering spittle that had cable news buzzing on Monday. Iím embarrassed, as many of you are, to call him our congressman.

But Iím taking it all in stride. I can do that because so many of you have given me the strength to carry on. Your support and encouragement of my decision to put principle before party are deeply appreciated. Some Republicans in ďredĒ northwest Iowa believe I should only represent them. I have good news for them, though. Iím honored to represent all 60,000 Iowans in Senate District 1 Ė Republicans, Democrats and independents.