MT. PLEASANT — The Henry County Democrats are ready for a change.
Close to 50 members of the county party gathered for a socially-distanced outdoor event on Saturday to celebrate July Fourth and hear from local candidates in the lead up to the general election in November.
Dave Helman, who dressed up and spoke as Paul Revere at the event, said the party usually marches as part of the Wayland Fourth of July parade, which was canceled. Helman said the group still wanted to gather and give an opportunity for candidates to speak.
“Our two themes are: one, we democrats recognize the importance of American history; and the second is you can do outdoor events with social distancing and honor all the CDC guidelines,” Helman explained.
The group set up a sanitation station as well as provided disposable masks for anyone who did not bring one of their own.
Many members were excited to attend the event.
Claudia Streeter, said following her decision to become a democrat 20 years ago, she has always felt it is important to keep up with politics at the local level.
“I think it’s important to have people in the county and to follow that,” she said.
Ginnie Swarm similarly said she felt it was important to show up and support democratic candidates.
“It really is time for a change … and it’s a nice patriotic thing to do on Fourth of July to support the democratic process,” she added.
County chair and candidate for Iowa House of Representatives District 84, Jeff Fager, also dressed up as Uncle Sam and gave a speech on the creation of the Declaration of Independence.
“It was an amazing document based on ideas that our founders had. New ideas that were experimental,” he said. But Fager conceded the nation’s founders were also “humans,” whose dream was only beginning to take shape.
“We recognize their dream wasn’t getting fulfilled and it kept building through the ages … And that’s what happened in the last 244 years, and we’re still at it,” Fager added.
Fager also spoke on his candidacy for the State Representative seat. He will be running against republican incumbent Joe Mitchell in the General Election. Fager noted his career in academia has given him a set of skills that would be appropriate for holding state office, including “budgeting, compromise building, dealing with regulations, creating regulations and rules, listening to a lot of different kinds of voices [to] piece together what really needs to happen in a situation.”
Fager covered a variety of issues he hopes to help tackle if elected but noted the cornerstone of his candidacy is based on improving education.
“Education is what builds everything else. And with a strong education, we build stronger economies,” he said. Fager noted research has shown that for every $1 invested in education, there is a return of $4 to $6.
“We need to support education at a real level … let’s support our teachers and part of that is getting politicians out of classrooms and letting teachers teach,” Fager said.
County supervisor candidate David Beaber and state senator Rich Taylor gave addresses to the crowd.
Beaber said he chose to run for the seat because he believes “all that can get done is not getting done.”
“I think there’s a lack of communication between Mt. Pleasant and our smaller communities. It’s just important for the entire county to be included … that is my main interest for Henry County,” Beaber said.
Taylor, who has held the seat for Iowa Senate District 42 since 2013, encouraged residents to help get the word out about local candidates, including posting yard signs and reminding friends and family to get registered to vote.
“We’ve got to get every Democrat, that’s registered as a Democrat, to vote. I’ll be working on that. I’m going to be on the phone calling people,” he said.