Huddleston for House

By ART CULLEN

We have asked Rep. Gary Worthan, R-Storm Lake, to speak with us about his campaign for re-election. He has declined to ask the public for his vote. Worthan claims he cannot get a fair shake from us. We would remind him that we have regularly published his letters and columns throughout his political career that started with a ­­­county supervisor loss against Jim Gustafson; he hasn’t had a real opponent since (until now). Most of his columns spend several paragraphs complaining about how the powerless minority Democrats in the legislature are such a pain. Sometimes he encourages people to contact him at the legislature. But he will not take your call unless you are among the small number he counts as friends, and forget about him returning your email.

That’s just the way Gary Worthan is.

His opponent, Sara Monroy Huddletson, is anything but arrogant and lazy.

She is a hard-working mother who earned her degree as a non-traditional student from Buena Vista University after becoming an American citizen. She served for 12 years as a member of the Storm Lake City Council, the first Latina council member in Iowa. She is a former domestic abuse counselor. She is approachable, engaging and warm. She studies the issues and wants to serve everyone. She wants to talk with you. She is downright chatty one-on-one.

Voters have come to know Worthan. They find him unresponsive and aloof. They find him cowtowing to the House Republican line: Strangle school budgets, tighten up mental health services and give providers the shaft, freeze environmental programs. Stand under the Steve King/Donald Trump banner. Do nothing for your hometown. Nothing. To illustrate how effective Worthan is within his own caucus, during a recent visit to King’s Pointe Resort Gov. Terry Branstad had a hard time conjuring Worthan’s name. Terry Branstad does not forget his friends or power players even when he is tired and bored.

Voters are getting to know Huddleston. Veteran door-knockers for her are hearing that Republican voters are tired of do-nothing Worthan, and his pals Trump and King. They want improved water quality and healthy farm incomes. They want top-flight K-12 education. They are not afraid of immigrants revitalizing rural communities. They want a change.

Maybe we won’t get the change we need. The number of Republicans in Buena Vista and Sac counties greatly outpaces Democrats. Independents in the House district skew to the GOP. Hers is a quixotic quest.

Worthan probably will win. But this is a strange year.

Huddleston has almost no support from the Democratic institutions. They don’t want to put a penny into Northwest Iowa against an incumbent representative joined at the brain to the Farm Bureau. They aren’t willing to gamble on finally electing a Latina to the Iowa Legislature. They don’t realize this is their best chance. Even if they don’t win the race they build the party. But they sit on their wrung hands.

Huddleston would give Storm Lake just a little leverage in the legislature. Sen. Mark Segebart, R-Vail, is a nice guy who does listen to other points of view. We find him to be an especially effective advocate for the disabled and mentally handicapped. Segebart has Nick Seriano, a Storm Lake Libertarian, as an opponent and should have little problem with re-election. It would be good to have a Democrat from Storm Lake who can work the other side of the aisle for our provincial interests.

Huddleston is for full education funding, including for private colleges through the Iowa Tuition Grant. She is for a clean and protected lake — which Worthan has called a “luxury.” She is for full citizenship for people of color — she treasures her earned citizenship more than most of us born here. She understands how state mandates fall on cities and counties. She knows what it is like to be a working mother and wife. She knows what it is like when people look down at you because of your beautiful brown skin and Spanish accent. She smiles through it.

Sara Huddleston is our friend. We encouraged her to run for city council because Storm Lake needed a Latina voice in city hall. We advised her not to run for legislature. We told her she would get clobbered. She said she didn’t care. She said she needed to plow the ground for other women and people of color to run for the council, the school board, the legislature, and yes, for Congress against that bigot Steve King.

Huddleston told us it would be worth every Sunday evening knocking on doors in Albert City and losing if it meant that some other Latina would step up and vote. She is running for democracy. She is running to get people involved in government. She is running for responsiveness in government, that your vote will result someday in an ear on the other end of the phone willing to listen to an opposing point of view.

Gary Worthan is running because, well, because he is sitting there and why not?

You don’t have to do much. You don’t even have to campaign. Good work if you can get it.

Sara Huddleston is running for a reason — to invigorate and expand democracy and respect for all people.

Give a hoot about your democracy. Pick someone else this time. Pick someone who respects you — male or female, Republican or Democrat, black or brown or white, Protestant or Buddhist or Muslim.

Vote for Sara Huddleston. Give her dream a chance. And wake the dreams of all those eager beavers around us who want to jump in and get to work building Buena Vista and Sac counties. They are ready.