At Winter’s End

Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers Soon

The first two lambs were born at the farm last Sunday, evidence of spring. I’m ready to work in the garden as soon as time off work aligns with precipitation-free days — maybe Saturday morning.

Despite heavy winter precipitation it looks like the upper Mississippi River basin will be spared severe flooding this spring.

The Corps of Engineers has been lowering the water level at the Coralville Lake in preparation, and society is getting used to the threat of perennial flooding. A season without it would be welcome reprieve.

I have been getting ready for spring. Before I leave for work today and the garden tomorrow a few thoughts about political life.

We elected delegates to the district and state convention last Saturday. I stayed until all committee seats were filled and delegate and alternate names were recorded. That was my role in this quadrennial presidential campaign.

On Wednesday a group of political friends from the caucus gathered. While we are engaged, there will be a lull in political action until after Labor Day and the fall campaign in the general election begins.

As the presidential primary season finishes out, it is hard to see a path for Bernie Sanders to overcome Hillary Clinton’s lead in delegates. The fact he didn’t win a single state in the March 15 elections is the sound of the death knell tolling for his campaign.

People want this to be settled, yet the 2008 election of Barack Obama is evidence these things are never really settled. In fact, Clinton’s long history of being assailed by conservatives and liberals alike, predating Obama by decades, suggests there is no such thing as “settled” in national politics any more.

In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, four people have announced. I have had multiple conversations with each of them and even have a photograph of Chet Culver, Patty Judge and me at Old Capitol the night before Culver’s inauguration as governor. If you have been reading this blog at all, it’s clear why I would align with State Senator Rob Hogg, who like me is a graduate of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

Congressman Dave Loebsack may or may not have an opponent in the second congressional district. A physician from Iowa City has expressed interest, and they could nominate someone at their district convention. If one considers who ran against Loebsack since he beat Jim Leach, Republicans really have no one.

In the state legislature races, our State Senator Bob Dvorsky isn’t up this cycle, and Republican Bobby Kaufmann doesn’t have a challenger for his seat in the House of Representatives. There is unlikely to be a Kaufmann challenger until 2022 after decennial redistricting.

Five Democrats have announced for three county supervisor seats up this cycle. Rod Sullivan and I have a relatively long relationship, including his two votes to appoint me to the county board of health. Lisa Green-Douglass demonstrated she has political legs and is just getting started as a supervisor. I plan to vote for both incumbents in the primary.

The third choice is more difficult. Three people with careers have announced. Jason T. Lewis is a University of Iowa employee; Kurt Michael Friese is a successful restaurateur and author; and Patricia Heiden is executive director of Oaknoll Retirement Community. All live in the large urban area that includes the county seat.

When one considers the community impact of these three candidates, Pat Heiden stands out. A political newcomer, Heiden seeks elective office after 36 years at Oaknoll, 21 of those as its executive director. I’ve given three talks at Oaknoll and have known a number of its residents. It is a culturally significant social group which makes positive contributions to the growing population of 60 plus citizens of the county. Heiden shares some responsibility for this.

I met Kurt Friese at the county convention, but only briefly. Even though he purchases a significant amount of locally grown food for his restaurant, virtually no one I know in the local food movement mentions his name. I need to understand him and his candidacy better. I also plan to read his book about hot peppers.

Jason T. Lewis announced at the convention and I know a little about him. He has been following the Iowa City Community School District and ran for school board twice unsuccessfully. I need to know him better.

My initial assessment of the race is we have too much board of supervisor influence from people who live in the county seat. I plan to vote for three candidates and favor people who have worked in business over government employees. That means after casting my vote for incumbents, selecting one of the two business people, Friese or Heiden.

We’ll see how it goes as winter ends, spring arrives. I plan to set politics aside as the work to sustain our lives in a turbulent world continues.

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