Countdown to Victory: 4 Days
Women, let’s talk. As a voting bloc, we have historically held enormous sway over election outcomes in Iowa. In Francis Thicke, we have a a chance to elect a Secretary of Agriculture – a position with arguably more long-term influence over the quality of our lives, be that positive or negative, than almost any other in state government – who will advocate for our common values.
Women across Iowa are enthusiastically supporting Francis Thicke’s campaign for many reasons. Among some, it’s policies promoting safe, local foods. For others, Francis and Susan Thicke’s practical, profitable farming methods that begin to rebuild Iowa’s vanishing ecological capital are a reminder that there’s still a place in Iowa’s agricultural economy for independent, environmentally responsive family farmers. Still others recognize the talent for leadership inherent in Thicke’s thoughtful, organized road map to sustainability that examines it from every aspect of food and agriculture production.
State Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, met Thicke on the campaign trail last summer and soon after became one of his greatest champions.
“It was clear to me that he is the leader Iowa needs at this moment in our history,” Jochum said. “His vision for sustainable and environmentally sound agriculture and his experience as an organic dairy farmer is nothing short of breathtaking. He’s a man of integrity, courage, and experience. Iowa could not elect a better Secretary of Agriculture.”
Peggy Huppert, a longtime Des Moines progressive who is finance director for Iowa Gov. Chet Culver’s re-election campaign, supports Thicke because she believes he will stand up to Big Ag interests and advance green energy technologies.
“I believe Iowa can be a leader in sustainable, ‘small is beautiful’ agriculture to go along with our groundbreaking work in green energy,” Huppert said. “We need more emphasis on taking care of our land and water and less on corporate ag profits. We need to not have the Farm Bureau calling all the shots. For all those reasons we need Francis Thicke.”
Connie Wimer, a Des Moines businesswoman who turned a weekly courthouse calendar into one of the most successful business newspaper and niche publishing companies in the country, signed on to Thicke’s candidacy after reading his book, A New Vision for Iowa Food and Agriculture, a blueprint of the policies Thicke would advance as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
“I admire his bold vision that would put Iowa on a path to sustainability and energy self-sufficiency as well as a plan to protect our water and land. This race is as important to urban voters as it is to those in the countryside,” Wimer said, urging her urban friends to join her in supporting Thicke’s candidacy.
Denise O’Brien, who was leading in the polls as the 2006 Secretary of Agriculture race until she was slandered in an 11th-hour round of attack ads and who co-chairs Thicke’s campaign, said Thicke is leading an important conversation to make life better for future Iowans.
“Francis Thicke is important for Iowa,” O’Brien said. “Producing local food and local energy is the most important work an Iowa Secretary of Agriculture can perform. Keeping people on the land and keeping the land (soil) in Iowa is critical to Iowa’s future. Our children and grandchildren need a place that provides self sufficiency – Iowa can do that with Francis Thicke as Secretary of Agriculture.”
Donna Buell, a practicing attorney from Spirit Lake who served on the Iowa Environmental Commission with Thicke and also served on the Sierra Club’s national board, says Thicke’s holistic approach to sustainable food and agriculture addresses myriad concerns.
Buell said: “My family owns millions of dollars of farmland in Iowa, yet I have to tell my college-age sons there are no jobs for them in farming. We live in the ‘breadbasket of the world,’ yet I cannot buy local foods, grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, none of it, at my local grocery stores. Why does industrial agriculture have the ‘right’ to contaminate my drinking water, and force me out of house-and-home with the noxious fumes coming off those CAFO cesspools? We could be climate heroes rather than some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gasses. I want to be a hero and help save the planet, and that’s why I’m voting for Francis Thicke for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.”
Phyllis Weeks of Knoxville, a retired paralegal, former Marion County Democratic chairwoman and current progressive powerhouse, believes Thicke’s policies will keep farmers on the land and return profits to their pockets.
“I live in a farm community, and I want to see farmers keep more of the money they make,” Weeks said. “With his background as a successful farmer and businessman, Francis Thicke has proven methods to show Iowa farmers how to do this.”
For me, the seeds of what is now absolute certainty that Francis Thicke should be elected to a position where he can transform his vision into good public policy were planted several years ago when I visited his and Susan’s farm as a reporter. First impressions count, and mine was that at the foundation of the good life the Thickes had built for themselves was a full, equal and, most of all, respectful partnership. It shows in routines like making cheese curd that are synchronized by familiarity, in the attentive way they listen to each other and in the easy way they correct each other if they don’t. “Balance” was the word that came to mind.
Their farm felt like my family’s farm felt. I experienced the familiar pull of socially and environmentally responsible farming in the way Francis and Susan interact with and care for their cows, and in the way they nurture the natural resources their business depends upon for long-term success. These were good people doing good things. The more I came to know them, the deeper my respect for their conscious choice to farm in a way that gives back to nature more than it takes.
We’ve never before had the chance we have in this election to choose an Iowa Secretary of Agriculture who will represent all Iowans, who cares as much as we do about what’s on the dinner table each night and in our children’s cafeterias, who believes it’s ethically and morally wrong to waste our state’s ecological capital, and who knows we avoid chaos later on by tapping now into new energy technologies to power agriculture and keep our communities vital.
Iowa needs Francis Thicke’s leadership, and women voters have the power to make that happen.
Beth Dalbey is the Communications Director for Thicke for Agriculture.