Thursday, November 01, 2018

Vilsack says he sees himself in Peter Leo


Iowa Democrats Big 3 boost their candidate in Carroll

For months Peter Leo, a Democratic candidate for the Iowa House, has been telling Carroll-area voters his role model for government service is the low-ley, solutions-oriented former governor Tom Vilsack.

It turns out the thinking is reciprocated — from Vilsack who said Leo, 34, reminds him of a younger version of himself.

“I am struck by how many similarities there are between Peter’s efforts at becoming a state representative and my efforts about 25 years ago,” Vilsack, 67, said during a campaign event for Leo in Carroll Tuesday. “I campaigned in my Senate district on the theory that I was a lawyer practicing in a small town. I was married. I had two children. My wife worked in the school district, and I campaigned on better schools, better access to health care and better economic opportunities — and that’s exactly what Peter is saying.”

Vilsack, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture who also served in the Iowa Senate, called into the Leo campaign rally at Kerp’s Tavern. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald attended in person. About 20 people were at the event.

The Nov. 6 election is about restoring sanity and substance to government in Iowa and the nation, Vilsack said.

“Peter is the kind of guy you want in that Legislature,” Vilsack said. “He’s going to work with folks on the other side.”

Leo is challenging State Rep. Brian Best, R-Glidden, a two-term incumbent in House District 12, which includes all of Carroll and Audubon counties and the eastern part of Crawford County.

Vilsack said Leo, a Grinnell College-and-Drake University-educated lawyer who lives in Manning and practices law in Denison, is a change agent, and someone who brings an exceptionally strong resume to the race. Leo will be able to aggressively advocate for residents of west-central Iowa in a way few can, Vilsack said.

“I think you have a potentially great future ahead of you if your friends and neighbors give you the opportunity to serve in the House,” Vilsack said of Leo. “Every once in a while people are blessed with a person who steps forward who has exceptional credentials. And shame on us if we don’t do everything we possibly can to take full advantage of someone who can be an extraordinary leader for our community and our state.”

Fitzgerald urged people who are on IPERS, the government retirement system, to vote for Leo to ensure their pensions will be safe — security Fitzgerald said may not be in place under Republican leadership in Des Moines as interest groups — the Koch Brothers, the Polk County Taxpayers Association, the Iowa Taxpayers Association — are pushing to change IPERS from a defined-benefit retirement system.

There are 733 retired people in Carroll County in the IPERS system, Fitzgerald said, noting they draw almost $10 million annually.

“Think about that, that’s like taking a major employer out of the county,” Fitzgerald said of IPERS role in the economy of Carroll County.

“There are threats,” Fizgerald said of IPERS. “It needs to be protected.”

Miller, who has made Democratic outreach into rural Iowa priority in recent years, said Leo can help rebuild the party in western Iowa.

“He’s a guy who is smart and capable,” Miller said.

Tom Vilsack

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