Shannon Henson has the skills and character to lead

Dr. Andy McGuire is a resident of Iowa House District 36, longtime health care advocate, former chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and member of the Board of Trustees at Broadlawns.

We’re faced with an embarrassment of riches this year in House District 36 with six candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. As a former Iowa Democratic Party chair, I know it can be tough to choose in a primary when all the candidates support a progressive agenda, care about values I hold dear, and are my friends.

But when I think about where we are right now, and all that is at stake – from a full-scale reversal of reproductive freedom, to the ongoing effort to undermine our public schools – I keep returning to one question: which candidate is most equipped and prepared to fight back and get results for Iowans?

I believe Shannon Henson is the right leader for state House district 36.

I don’t come to this conclusion lightly. I’ve lived in this district for more than 30 years and, as I mentioned, have been a leader in state politics. I’m also a doctor and on the Board of Trustees at Broadlawns, and I’m a mother to seven children.   

For so many reasons, I believe Shannon is the kind of leader we need for our district, and for all Iowans. I want to share just a few of those reasons with you:

First, Shannon Henson is a fighter. She has taken on big corporations in court, winning on behalf of Iowa families. She has worked to get things done as an advocate at the legislature, and she knows just what we’re up against in terms of driving real policy change. Shannon has the courage to stand up for what is right despite all the Republican pushback. 

Shannon also knows what it means to work hard. Growing up watching her mom work overtime to feed four kids – and later painting houses and wallpapering for her small business – Shannon learned firsthand what it means to keep going when things are tough. From working at Bennigan’s to help pay for college, to putting in the hours of preparation to bring a case to trial, to logging hundreds of miles training for an ultramarathon, Shannon has no fear of hard work and she will stop at nothing to reach her goals. That’s the kind of tenacity that we need fighting for all Iowa families at the Capitol.

Shannon may have the most policy and legal experience of anyone in the race, but in my opinion, what makes her so effective is her strong sense of empathy. She has a natural ability to see different viewpoints, build strong relationships, and bring people together to help reach a common goal. In a time when so many candidates seem ready to put themselves first, Shannon is the kind of person who seeks and values the perspective that other people bring. 

If we’re going to get anything done in the coming years, we’re going to need a lot more people like Shannon leading on issues and delivering our message both inside and outside the capitol. 

Moreover, Shannon knows the stakes. It shouldn’t have to matter that she is the only woman in this race, but to me it does matter. As our nation reaches a catastrophic turning point on reproductive freedom, only a third of our state legislators are women – and that’s before more will retire this year. We need more women in the state legislature.

The reversal of Roe v Wade will make defending reasonable abortion policies at the state level even more critical. An effort to criminalize abortion will sweep this nation and we need effective leadership in the state legislature to stop this movement in Iowa and protect our current freedom to make our own choices. That leader – that fighter – is Shannon Henson. She’s a lifelong, committed advocate for reproductive freedom and she will be an outspoken advocate on this topic.

Shannon is ready to fight for House district 36 and all Iowans. She has the skills and the character to lead. That’s why I’m voting for her in the June 7 primary, and I urge you to join me.

Top photo of Shannon Henson (left) with Andy McGuire provided by the author and published with permission.

Editor’s note: Bleeding Heartland welcomes guest posts advocating for Democratic candidates in competitive primaries for local, state, or federal offices. Please read these guidelines and contact Laura Belin if you are interested in writing.

Iowa House district 36 covers parts of the west and south sides of Des Moines.

About the Author(s)

Andy McGuire