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A visit from Capitol Hill

Clinton visits North Liberty
Former New York Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited North Liberty Sunday, Jan. 24. The presidential hopeful spoke before a crowd of about 700 people at Garner Elementary School, and spent time shaking hands with constituents after her speech. (photo by Lori Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– Two weekends, two former U.S. Secretaries of State.
That’s the recent dignitary count for North Liberty.
Many in the community welcomed former Secretary Madeleine Albright on Sunday, Jan. 17, and former New York Senator and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday, Jan. 24. Both women were here to stump for Clinton as she campaigns to become the Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election.
A crowd of about 700 people gathered in the gym at Garner Elementary School to hear Clinton’s speech.
With the presidential caucuses just days away, many presidential hopefuls visited Iowa because of its importance as the first state in the nation to hold caucus events.
While front-running Republican candidates Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz and billionaire Donald Trump, along with five other candidates vying for the GOP party nomination, have made many stops in Iowa communities, only Senator Rand Paul came to North Liberty, making an appearance at the North Liberty Recreation Center Jan. 8.
North Liberty Mayor Amy Nielsen extended the invitation to Secretary Clinton, not only because she supports Clinton for president, but also because she hopes to highlight the influence of the growing community she calls home.
“As the mayor, I feel it is important that candidates pay attention to the community of North Liberty, especially because of how fast we are growing and the impact we can have on this caucus,” Nielsen said. “I hope it will bring attention to the caucus process and get people to participate. We have a history of extremely low voter turnout.”
Results of the county’s most recent election seems to support Nielsen’s concerns. In the Jan. 19 special election to decide a replacement for Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil, both supervisor candidates were from the North Liberty area. However, of the 9,598 registered voters in North Liberty’s six precincts, only 259 people voted– just 2.7 percent.
“I feel strongly we need to grow our voter turnout in North Liberty, and our interest in the political system in general, from the local level all the way up to the federal level,” Nielsen added.
Last Sunday, Clinton was introduced by Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation. Many in the crowd donned pink T-shirts showing support of the nonprofit women’s reproductive health care provider after the Center for Medical Progress group released secret recordings to the public with allegations that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit.
Richards characterized Clinton as a strong defender of women’s and children’s health care rights.
“One in five women in this country have been to Planned Parenthood for health care,” said Richards. “They want a president who believes health care isn’t a luxury, but a human right here in America. They want a president who understands being pro-choice also means having the right to choose to have a child, and they want a president who will fight for prenatal care for moms, Head Start, paid family leave, a first-class public education, and a president who understands every child deserves clean drinking water, whether they live in North Liberty, Iowa, or Flint, Michigan.”
To several outbursts of robust applause, Clinton covered many topics from her presidential platform, including her experience in foreign policy and working for the Children’s Defense Fund. She drew attention to the stark contrasts between herself and the Republican candidates, advocating for issues from renewable energy and universal health care to economic opportunities for the middle class and limiting the power of Wall Street and big banks.
“I have put raising incomes at the center of my economic plan,” Clinton said. “Too many Americans are working too hard for too many hours and not getting ahead. They don’t have any security.”
Clinton recognized Mayor Nielsen in her speech.
“I had the chance to meet Mayor Amy Nielsen and her (family), and we talked about what it’s like to run for office, what it’s like to get in, and how hard it is,” Clinton said. “But (also) how important it is that people like her are willing to serve their communities.”
Audience member Joan Wright, of Solon, said she came to the rally as a Clinton supporter.
“I’m committed to caucus for Hillary because I think she has the most experience. She has the background for this. In these troubled times, we need someone with experience. She is articulate, she is smart, and she is for children,” Wright said.
Wright served several years ago as a Democratic precinct caucus co-chair in Solon, and talked about the importance of local participation.
“It’s your responsibility. If you want to live in a free country and a democracy, it’s your responsibility to be there for whoever you caucus for. It’s the democratic process,” Wright enthused.
Clinton also encouraged participation in the Feb. 1 caucuses.
“Remember, you are offering the first opinion in the world about who should be the next president and commander-in-chief,” said Clinton. “People around the world pay close attention to our elections. We kind of take our democracy for granted. But what the next president will do really matters. Please caucus next Monday night.”