September Meeting

Dr. Daniel McGuire
Dr. Daniel McGuire

The Plymouth County Democrats will be holding their regular monthly County Central Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 18, 2017, at Lally’s Eastside Restaurant, 125 Plymouth Street NE, Le Mars, Iowa.  Special guest speaker Dr. Daniel McGuire will discuss his wife Dr. Andy McGuire’s campaign for Governor.

All interested Democrats are invited to attend.  Come an hour early to eat with the group.

Susan Leonard

Plymouth County Democrats, 9/1/2017 Edition 1, Volume 8

Tell me about your family:

I grew up on a farm about five miles south of Merrill, Iowa. I met my husband Mark when I was living in the San Francisco Bay area. He is originally from Berkeley, California. We moved to Merrill in 1991 and have two children. Our daughter Casey is in her fourth year as an art teacher in the Mid-Prairie District (just outside Iowa City). Our son Sam just finished his last deployment in the U.S. Navy and will complete his service to the Navy in December 2017. He runs the nuclear reactor on a fast attack submarine, the U.S.S. Santa Fe, based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Susan Leonard
Susan Leonard, Precinct Committee Person for Plymouth County’s 7th Precinct, Chair of the Website Subcommittee

Tell me about your hobbies or interests:

One of my favorite hobbies is gardening, and I also enjoy doing arts and crafts projects. Both Mark and I enjoy cooking and entertaining. We appreciate many types of ethnic foods and delight in learning to prepare new dishes.

Tell me about your educational and occupational history:

I graduated from Le Mars Community High School and then attended Iowa State University; Laney College in Oakland, CA; San Francisco State University; and graduated from Oregon State University in Health and Human Sciences. I worked as a house painter and in interior design and publishing in California. Upon returning to Iowa I worked in the Student Services Office of Teikyo Westmar University. In 1994 I started working at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation family medicine residency program as the Education Coordinator. The program is affiliated with the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and supported by the two Sioux City hospitals. I retired in June 2016. Since retiring I have become involved as a volunteer with the Mary J. Treglia Community House in Sioux City, which strives to serve the needs of the immigrant population in Siouxland through education, services, advocacy, and celebration of diversity.

Tell me about your involvement with the Democratic Party:

I’ve identified as a Democrat since I was first able to vote. I campaigned in most presidential elections, starting with Senator George McGovern’s run in the 1972 election. Since retiring I find that I have more time to be involved in political activities beyond presidential elections.

Tell me something not many people know about you:

I have earned the credential of Master Gardener through the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Office, although I may never actually consider myself a master but rather an undefeated amateur! Also, I recently sought and obtained ordination after being asked by two friends to officiate at their wedding.

Tell me what you’re most proud of:

I am most proud of my children, Casey and Sam. Both are bright, caring, respectful young people who are committed to using their time and talents to make the world a better place.

Who is your biggest hero, past or present?

Dr. Wangari Maathai, a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a Kenyan who started the Green Belt Movement. Through her work as an environmentalist over 30 million trees were planted across Kenya. She also worked throughout her life against political oppression and suffered greatly for her views but persisted until her death.

How long have you been active in your favorite causes and/or community in Iowa:

I am currently active with both the Plymouth County and Woodbury County Democrats; am on the planning committee for Siouxland Progressive Women; and am a member of Sioux City NOW, the Siouxland Pride Alliance, and the Sioux City Chapter of the NAACP. I am most passionate about working for social justice issues effecting the less privileged and oppressed members of our society. I continue to work to increase my awareness of my privilege as a member of the “white” class and the responsibility that privilege carries to do all I can to right societal injustices. I try to live by the creed “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Tell me your favorite quote:

I have so many that it is difficult to pick one. My favorite at the moment is from Alice Walker: “Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.”

To meet Susan and many other interesting Plymouth County Democrats, come to our monthly meetings, held the third Monday of the month (locations announced via email, on KLEM 1410 AM, and in the Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Joann Simons

Plymouth County Democrats, 5/17/2017 Edition 1, Volume 7

Tell me about your early years:

Joann Simons
Joann Simons

I was born at St. Joseph Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa. I grew up in North Sioux City, South Dakota, where my mom and dad owned the Dean and Polly Café, Cabin oil station, and Skyline bar. I started working in the restaurant at eight years of age, doing dishes; by twelve years I cooked; and by sixteen years I was serving beer.

I moved away from North Sioux when my husband got a job with the U.S.D.A. meat department. We moved around for several years and finally settled in Armour, SD. My oldest daughter still lives there. I divorced my husband after eighteen years and moved back to Sioux City.

While in college I met another man and the two of us lived together until he died of asbestos cancer in 2003. Continue reading “Joann Simons”

August Meeting

The Plymouth County Democrats will be holding their regular monthly County Central Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, at Lally’s Eastside Restaurant, 125 Plymouth Street NE, Le Mars, Iowa.  All interested Democrats are invited to attend.  Come an hour early to eat with the group.

July Meeting

The Plymouth County Democrats will be holding their regular monthly County Central Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 17, 2017, at Lally’s Eastside Restaurant, 125 Plymouth Street NE, Le Mars, Iowa.  All interested Democrats are invited to attend.  Come at 5:30 p.m. if you want to eat with some of your fellow Plymouth County Democrats.

June Meeting

The Plymouth County Democrats will be holding their regular monthly County Central Committee meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 19, 2017, at Doosky’s East, 101 Iowa 140, Kingsley, Iowa (the restaurant on the golf course).  All interested Democrats are invited to attend.

Anyone interested in coming early for supper and conversation are encouraged to be there by 5:30 p.m.

Additionally, after the meeting the group plans to pose for photos by the Freedom Rock, currently being painted by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen a couple blocks away.

A tentative agenda is attached, but as always we are open to addressing anything you want to discuss that isn’t already listed.  Hope to see many of you there.  Remember, page two of the agenda is a list of your representatives and their contact information.

See you next week.

Pat Ritz

Plymouth County Democrats, 5/17/2017 Edition 1, Volume 6

 Tell me about your family:

I have five kids and eight grandkids.

Tell me about your hobbies or interests, past or present:

I enjoy fishing, and when I find time to get away Victoria Nicolls and I like to travel. We go down to Texas in the winter to see my daughter and one of Victoria’s friends in Corpus Christi, TX.

Tell me about your educational and occupational history:

I was born in Sioux City, IA, and raised on a farm outside of Merrill. I attended school in Akron and graduated from Akron High School in 1977. I started a trucking business in the summer of 1977 and ran it until the spring of 1979, at which time I went to work for John Deere for the next 25 years, doing everything from shop work to parts, sales, and then service manager. I left John Deere in 2004 to start my own business and built a shop/home outside of Akron by C38. I have also farmed for many years. I did it on the side while working with John Deere and still farm today. I have three full-time employees and three part-time employees. We work on equipment/tractors, farm, and have a trucking line hauling grain.

Tell me about your involvement with the Democratic Party:

Victoria and I both got involved in the Plymouth County Democratic Party last year when we could see people were very confused about the Democratic party. I was privileged to be a delegate at the State Convention in Des Moines last year and I attended the National Convention last summer in Philadelphia, PA, as an alternate delegate. I ran for Iowa’s 5th District House of Representatives in 2016. I lost that election, but I plan on running again. I consider the first run a practice run. I was nominated at a nominating convention and really got a late start in the race. I participated in many parades and other public events and knocked on a large number of doors during the run-up to the election. I was recently elected Vice Chair of the Plymouth County Democrats.

Tell me something not many people know about you:

Ninety-nine percent of my family is Republican; they were registered Democrats and switched when the churches began to enforce it. I used to race cars and did tractor pulling. I won a lot of trophies at tractor pulls.

Tell me what you’re most proud of:

I am really proud of how my kids turned out, and I have a bunch of very special grandkids. They’re all good workers and very respectful.

Who is your biggest hero, past or present?

I am very amazed with Warren Buffet, how he is so original, normal, and just a down-to-earth, simple guy. You’d never ever know he’s worth billions of dollars.

Tell me about your activities in your favorite causes and/or community in Iowa:

I enjoy assisting people and their needs. I have recently become very educated in the political system. This winter Victoria and I took several trips out of state to show our support and help fellow party members at marches across America and plan to do more.

Tell me your favorite quote:

A couple that I personally use a lot are “Move it or lose it” and, when telling someone to finish their food, “ There are starving families in Ethiopia.”

To meet Pat and many other interesting Plymouth County Democrats, come to our monthly meetings, held the 3rd Monday of the month (locations announced via email, on KLEM 1410 AM, and in the Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Victoria Nicolls

Plymouth County Democrats, 5/17/2017 Edition 1, Volume 5

 Tell me about your family:

After meeting Pat Ritz I moved to his house in Merrill, IA, for one year. After Pat built a house and shop on his land in Akron we moved to the farm and remain there today.

Tell me about your hobbies or interests, past or present:

I enjoy my four horses, two donkeys, four pups, and my kitties. I also enjoy roller skating and taking Pat’s grandchildren to the skating rink.

Tell me about your educational and occupational history:

I was born in Sioux City, IA. I attended Crescent Park Grade School then went to Hoover Junior High and then on to West High School. After graduating from West I left at 18 years of age and moved to Texas for 20 years before moving back to Sioux City in 2003. I worked for the Argosy Casino for two years. Now I help Pat Ritz on the farm and sell flowers as a small business.

Tell me about your involvement with the Democratic Party:

I have been a lifelong Democrat. I have gone to many marches and protests, including the inauguration protest in Kansas City on January 20 and the women’s march the next day; a march coinciding with the electoral college in Austin, Texas; at Steve King’s Sioux City office; and at Governor Branstad’s farewell dinner in Sioux City. I have also helped out in parades, at the booth during the Plymouth County Fair, decorated election headquarters, and knocked doors to get out the vote prior to the election. I attend most meetings of the County Central Committee.

Tell me about any groups you belong to:

On Facebook I belong to Donald Trump Is Not My President, Dump Trump, People vs. Donald Trump, Hillary Wins Popular Vote, and Hillary Clinton for America

Tell me something not many people know about you:

I’m a pretty good roller skater. I used to do it when I was a kid and it was like a second home for me.

Tell me what you’re most proud of:

I’m proud of my evergreen trees I’ve planted on the property for windbreak. It looks really nice, and I’m proud of how it turned out.

Who is your biggest hero, past or present?

George Washington. He helped us win the revolutionary war and became the father of our country. He stood for what America was all about.

How long have you been active in your favorite causes and/or community in Iowa?

I’ve always been a strong-headed person for women’s rights but never really spoke up and said much. I just didn’t feel like I needed to. But after what happened this past election and the time since then, I felt like I should have done more and am becoming more active.

Were there any significant hurdles or fears you had to face over the years?

I’ve had issues with learning disabilities that have held me back.

Tell me your favorite quote:

It’s my own quote, “You know.” I use that a lot. I use it because sometimes I feel like people aren’t paying attention or listening to me. You know…

To meet Victoria and many other interesting Plymouth County Democrats, come to our monthly meetings, held the 3rd Monday of the month (locations announced via email, on KLEM 1410 AM, and in the Le Mars Daily Sentinel)

Clayton Hodgson

Plymouth County Democrats, 4/3/2017 Edition 1, Volume 4

Tell me about your family:

My wife Ardella and I met as students at Westmar College in Le Mars in 1951 and were married April 7, 1962. We have four great kids, Beth, David, Jill, and Doug; nine grandchildren; and 3 great-grandchildren.

Tell me about your hobbies or interests, past or present:

My hobbies include fishing, photography (college annual photographer at Westmar and post photographer at Fitzsimons Army Hospital), camping, cycling (a founding member of the Plymouth County Cyclists and frequent participant of RAGBRAI and other area rides), reading US history books and books about famous people, and actively volunteering with the Plymouth County Democrats.

Tell me about your educational and occupational history:

I spent the first nine years (primary through 8th grade) of schooling at Stanton #5 grade school located six miles south of Le Mars. I was one of the 18 or 20 students there. High school was in the Le Mars Community School, specializing in vocational agriculture. I received a BA degree from Westmar in 1955, earning a divisional major in the natural sciences.

I farmed in partnership with my father, Robert Hodgson, for a couple of years, beginning in 1958. After a few years he and my mother Mary Hodgson retired to Le Mars. I farmed for a total of 17 years. Ardella and I became active volunteers in Berkley Bedell’s campaign for Iowa’s 6th Congressional District for US Congress in 1974. Upon his successful election the Congressman asked me if I would be willing to become a member of his staff as farm advisor. After a great deal of thought and family discussion I accepted his offer and was a member of his staff for 14 years until he retired. The final years with Berkley my staff responsibilities were broadened and I was named Director of his Iowa offices in addition to continuing my duties as farm advisor.

Upon learning Berkley was retiring in 1986 I ran as the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, the office he previously held. My opponent was Fred Grandy from Hollywood, California. Mr. Grandy won by less than a 51 percent margin. I then worked on the staff of Senator Tom Harken for two years.

I entered retirement in 1995 after five years as sales representative for Gateway Computers, working at their home office in North Sioux City, South Dakota.

Tell me about your involvement with the Democratic Party:

I feel strongly that activity in a political party is a normal ongoing responsibility of all citizens who vote. Anyone who only shows up on Election Day is no different than a person who professes to be a Christian and yet only attends church services on Christmas and Easter.

Tell me about your involvement on any boards, with clubs, etc.:

While farming I served as a member of the Plymouth County Extension Service County Council, also a member of the Plymouth County Farm Bureau, Merrill-Stanton Evangelical Church, Plymouth County Cyclists, Plymouth County Democrats, United Methodist Church of Le Mars, National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), American Red Cross disaster volunteer, 4-H, and 4-H photographer leader.

Tell me about any awards or commendations you’ve received:

Sharp shooter award (US Army), 4-H and vocational agriculture ribbons at the Plymouth County Fair, named one of three outstanding Plymouth County young farmers in 1967, named outstanding agriculture promoter in 1979 by the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, outstanding Red Cross disaster services volunteer (I even have the coffee cup to prove it), and honored by being awarded the Distinguished Service Award from Westmar University Alumni Association in 1997.

Tell me something not many people know about you:

Lifestyles invariably change as couples move into their retirement years. Our lives have changed a great deal. The thirty years of Ardella’s diabetes has, among other things, caused her to lose her vision and much of her endurance. I am the new cook and bottle washer (with an electric dishwasher hand dishwashing is pretty much old hat). Cooking has been a new developing skill, and I kind of enjoy it, with mostly good results. I even trade recipes with the girls.

Tell me what you’re most proud of:

This has to be family. It’s awesome for two people to marry, form a union and produce, over the years, four wonderful and healthy children, and then watch that process repeat again and again, intrigued that each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild inherited some of their physical characteristics from both of us.

Who is your biggest hero, past or present? Berkley Bedell has been my greatest hero since the day he honored me with an invitation to be part of his Congressional staff. I have watched him close-up, now consider him a good friend, and even at 95 years of age and deteriorating health he has a continuing passion to make our nation a better place, his latest project working with similarly aspiring college age youngsters, encouraging them to consider government service as an honorable career.

How long have you been active in your favorite causes and/or community in Iowa?

When I was in the sixth grade during the autumn of 1944 World War II was every American’s fight. Speed limits were 35 mph, and anyone seen driving faster was deemed a bad citizen. The war effort even recruited rural students in all the one-room schools in Iowa. We were informed that kapok, the material used in flight jackets of Army Air Force pilots, was in short supply and an alternative material that would float was desperately needed. Milk weed pods were chosen as the perfect material to replace kapok. Thousands of burlap bags were distributed to rural students all across Iowa and we were asked to hunt mature milk weed pods, store them in the bags, and allow them to dry out. That fall we spent three to four hours every week walking through corn fields searching for the lifesaving pods. The filled bags were counted and schools in each township competed to be the winner. Stanton #5 received the award in our township. We were one proud school.

Were there any significant hurdles or fears you had to face over the years?

The years of World War II were a desperate time, and even though a young child (in third grade when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941), we were all expected to do our part. We were given the silhouetted designs of the German and Japanese airplanes, both fighters and bombers, and told to study them repeatedly until we had the shapes of those planes well in mind. Then we were asked to keep our eyes on the skies and to report any sightings immediately.

Having the Air Force base in Sioux City (presently the 185th Air National Guard) brought thousands of US war planes to the area during the war, and we became accustomed to the sound of dull drones of squadrons overhead. Many of the larger squadrons often numbered 50 to 100 planes, and we quickly learned the models of all those fighters. I think my schoolmates would agree that the P-38 was our favorite.

Tell me your favorite quote:

“It’s nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.”

– Tip O’Neil, Speaker of the US House of Representatives 1977-1987.

To meet Clayton and many other interesting Plymouth County Democrats, come to our monthly meetings, held the 3rd Monday of the month (locations announced via email, on KLEM 1410 AM, and in the Le Mars Daily Sentinel)