Democratic presidential candidates converging on Cedar Rapids, July 17

The Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Hall of Fame dinner will draw a larger-than-usual crowd this year, thanks to confirmed appearances by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders, former Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Senator Jim Webb. (I assume former Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, will join the list of speakers as well.) Tickets for the event at the Cedar Rapids Convention Complex on Friday, July 17 are available here.

After the jump I’ve posted details on the seven Iowa Democrats who will be honored at the Hall of Fame event. No one deserves the “outstanding elected official” award more than Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum. Following Iowa statehouse politics closely can be a discouraging pastime, especially this year, but the highest-ranking Democratic woman to serve in the Iowa Senate always makes progressives feel well-represented. I can’t think of a better candidate for governor in 2018.

Former State Representative and Cedar Rapids Mayor Kay Halloran will receive the Iowa Democratic Party’s “outstanding supporter” award. Outside her home town, she is best known for having served as mayor during the devastating 2008 floods.

The “outstanding activist” award is going to Tri-County Democrats chair Kurt Meyer. He was the runner-up candidate to lead the Iowa Democratic Party in January. As I wrote at that time, Meyer has done tremendous organizing work in northern Iowa. His efforts contributed to Mitchell County being the whitest county in the U.S. to vote for Barack Obama (and Howard County the fifth-whitest to favor Obama over Mitt Romney), as well as to State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm’s narrow victory over Republican Senator Merlin “Build my fence” Bartz in 2012. Without Wilhelm, there’s no Iowa Senate majority.  

Excerpt from an Iowa Democratic Party press release on June 9:

Below are the 2015 Hall of Fame award winners:

Outstanding Elected Official Award: Senate President Pam Jochum

Senator Jochum has served the State of Iowa in the legislature since 1992, and was the first female Democrat elected to serve as President of the Iowa Senate. Senator Jochum has been a leader in the fight for mental health services, public education funding, women’s rights and civil rights, and for campaign finance reform during her long and impressive tenure as a state legislator. Prior to serving in the legislature, senator Jochum was employed at Loras College. She and her daughter live in Dubuque’s north end. She is also involved in numerous community organizations including the League of Women Voters, Greater Dubuque Development Corporation, Prevention of Disabilities, and the Task Force to Prevent Family Violence.

Outstanding Supporter Award: the Honorable Kay Halloran

Kay was the first woman to open a private law practice in the city of Cedar Rapids. Kay was the Mayor of Cedar Rapids from 2006-2009, only the 2nd woman to serve in that role. Kay served in the state legislature from 1983-1992, and from 1997-1999. Kay has been a very generous and long-time supporter of Democrats, Democratic candidates-both locally and across Iowa and the United States, and has been a great supporter of the ideals and principles of the Iowa Democratic Party.

Minnette Doderer Award for Outstanding Leadership: former Senator Bev Hannon

Former State Senator Bev Hannon helped found the Democratic Activist Women’s Network (DAWN) to focus on recruiting, educating, supporting, and electing pro-choice Democratic women in Iowa local and state government. Bev served in the Iowa Senate from 1985-1993, as one of the first pro-choice women elected to the legislature from Jones County.  Hannon was also instrumental in founding the Iowa Women’s Foundation based in Iowa City.

Jim Lodwick Award for Outstanding State Central Committee Member: Penny Rosfjord

Penny was first elected to the State Central Committee in 2010. In her time on the committee, Penny has set an example for activists all across the state to follow. Penny serves a county chair mentor for counties all across the 4th congressional district, where she’s helped to build party infrastructure. She’s served as the Secretary for her district committee, as well as the rules chair for the 4th Congressional District Convention. And she’s been a very active member of the SCC, serving on the operations committee and speaking on the role of county chairs.

Bob Creech Award for Outstanding Democratic Party Chair: Melinda Jones

Melinda was first elected to the Wapello County Democratic Central Committee in 2006, served as Wapello County Democrats Vice Chair from 2008 – 2010, and since 2010, has served as Chair of the Wapello County Democratic Party. Melinda has served on the 2nd District Central Committee since 2008, taking a leadership role within the District Convention’s Rules and Platform Committee in 2010, 2012, and 2014. Melinda is a teacher, she’s active in the Iowa State Education Association, and, Melinda is currently serving her 3rd term on the State Central Committee.

Dixon Terry Award for Outstanding Democratic Party Activist: Kurt Meyer

Kurt Meyer has been a leading example for Democratic Activists for years, and most recently as Chair of the Tri-County Democrats, an organization Kurt conceived of when he recognized that the rural counties in north central Iowa could do more together than apart. Worth, Mitchell, and Howard Counties are in the same State House and State Senate district; and Kurt’s leadership and the cooperation accomplished under his guidance provided a local support structure for critical legislative races in 2012.

Edward Campbell Rising Star Award: Morgan Miller

Morgan Miller is from West Des Moines, IA. She attended the University of Iowa where she majored in Political Science. After graduating, Morgan became a legislative clerk in the Iowa Senate in the 2012 session. She then joined AFSCME Council 61 as a Political Representative. Morgan’s work with AFSCME includes advocacy of public employees, political education, grassroots organizing, and campaigns. She is passionate about the Democratic Party and in particular worker’s issues and women’s healthcare access.

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