Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Possible office run costs The News a columnist

By Bill Gray

By BILL GRAY

Mt. Pleasant News

I think I’ve lost a columnist.

But my loss just may be Iowa’s gain.

Christie Vilsack isn’t coming home to Mt. Pleasant, or to her occasional writings for the Mt. Pleasant News, any time soon. Sure, that’s a loss for all of us because of the kind of person she is.

She’s going to be painting on a different canvas. Actually, if you’re hoping like I’m hoping, this could be a preliminary to Christie painting on a canvas the size of Iowa – or beyond.

I barely know the former first lady of Iowa, the present spouse of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, compared to many of you. Like husband Tom, she matured as a community leader in Mt. Pleasant, and continues to grow.

I know she likes the pie at Jerry’s. That’s why President Barack Obama stopped there. This is a person who is connected.

Now she’s making connections in northern Iowa. Her daunting task: To challenge Republican incumbent Congressman Steve King, he is of the Tea Party-ish rhetoric and the leadership that helped spur on the non-retention of Iowa Supreme Court Justices. In the re-districted Iowa, the King-Vilsack potential race will take place in the northwest, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by an estimated 40,000 registrations.

If anyone can pull this off, it will be soon-to-be Ames resident Christie Vilsack. As you who know Christie better than I surely will attest, this is a person who should be in Congress helping her district, all of Iowa and the entire nation tackle challenges.

Christie Vilsack has earned her popularity by being sensitive to issues important to Iowans. And even though you can look at her move selfishly as a loss of a great person to claim for our community, she’s not a person who ever will make herself a stranger in Mt. Pleasant and Henry County.

That’s a very good thing for this area, where we have to lean hard – very hard – on the veteran leadership of State Rep. Dave Heaton in Des Moines to have our interests considered. Having Christie Vilsack in Congress, even in another Iowa district, can’t help but improve our potential to have issues important to us gain traction.

Job creation and retention would be big issues here, as they are in Des Moines and Lee counties. However, state leaders recently have been patting themselves on the back about “progress” in bringing down unemployment, and conducting “jobs tours” that somehow don’t include Mt. Pleasant or Henry County. We can use all the help we can get from someone who knows that Henry County and southeast Iowa aren’t “out of the woods” when it comes to stable jobs.

If Congresswoman Christie Vilsack is in place in the inevitable future when the state of Iowa will need a new U.S. Senator, how good would that be – for Mt. Pleasant, for Iowa and for the nation?

From my perspective, it’s certainly worth saying a fond farewell to an occasional columnist and a solid “Go Get ‘Em!” to a northwest Iowa Congressional candidate.