Iowa Democratic Party honors party leaders, encourages Iowans to look toward 2022 Election

The Iowa Democratic Party virtually held its second annual Hall of Fame event on Sunday evening. Seven Iowans were recognized for their work in the party as the party encouraged Iowans to look to electing more Democrats in the 2022 Midterm election.


The Daily Iowan; Photo by Ben Smith

Gubernatorial candidate Ross Wilburn speaks during the Johnson County Democrats BBQ at the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. Multiple gubernatorial candidates spoke at the event as well as guest speaker Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa).

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

With over a year until the 2022 Midterm Election, the Iowa Democratic party spent Sunday night rallying members and honoring party leaders through their second annual Hall of Fame event. 

The Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn hosted the event and featured Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta, Georgia.  

In his opening remarks, Wilburn encouraged Iowans of color to participate in local government and be a voice in their communities. 

The first awardee was Paula Martinez who won the award for Outstanding State Central Committee member. Martinez said the Democratic party is a party for the people in marginalized communities. 

“As Latinas in the world, in Iowa, it seems like we did not have a lot of participation by Latino women or by minority women in general, but the times have changed and now it’s so exciting … and just so refreshing to see that young minority women and men are now getting so involved to make the change,” Martinez said. 

DiAnne Lerud-Chubb and Tom Courtney were the co-recipients of the Outstanding Democratic Party Chair Award. Lerud-Chubb, told the Democrats that everyone is only a small part of a bigger story, but working alongside each other makes a big difference. 

Courtney said one of his biggest goals for the party is to get young people involved. He said he does this by answering questions and doing everything he can to make sure they feel like they have a voice in the party.

“We’re trying to get everyone into this tent, everyone in here, and get everyone’s ideas out because I believe, personally, that we have the best ideas there are,” Courtney said. 

Winner of the Outstanding Democratic Party Activist Award, Athena Gilbraith, said that Iowa needs to recognize civil and human rights and the Democratic party is the party that does so. 

“I’ve never been afraid to keep racial justice as the focal point of my politics because I believe that activism is the natural progression of democracy,” Gilbraith said. 

Other awardees recognized during this event were Amy Adams with the Outstanding Leadership award, and Alma Puga with the Rising Star Award. 

Additionally, former U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack was inducted as the 2021 Outstanding Elected Official. 

Loebsack emphasized the importance of elected officials getting to their constituents by making an effort to speak to and meet as many as they can. 

“I could not represent the second district and the people of the second district if I didn’t learn about them and about the district first,” Loebsack said. 

Lance Bottoms said that faith in the leadership in the nation was restored with the election of President Joe Biden and the flip from red to blue in the Senate. 

Moves made by the President and the Democrat-majority Congress have helped Americans to turn their lives around after the devastation of the pandemic, Lance Bottoms said. 

She encouraged Iowans to look toward Democratic candidates for the 2022 election and work toward turning Iowa blue. 

Sen. Chuck Grassley has not yet announced his reelection plans. However, Democrat Dave Muhlbauer announced his run for the seat in May, and Republican Jim Carlin announced his Congressional run in February. 

“It is more important than ever that we have members of Congress who will work with the administration to keep this momentum going forward,” Lance Bottoms said. 

Looking ahead, Wilburn said he hopes the party will continue to fight for racial justice and human rights. 

“I truly believe that we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us, not just civil rights icons, but everyone who has worked to secure progress on racial justice,” Wilburn said. It’s up to all of us to continue this movement.”

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