Jasper County Democrats Chairperson Michelle Smith stood at the entrance of 110 First St. N. Saturday morning in downtown Newton, surrounded by dozens of people. The windows and doors of the building had been decorated the night before with political signs showing support of Democratic candidates — Chaz Allen, Wes Breckenridge, Ann Fields and gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell.
As everyone watched with anticipation, Smith cut the streamers and officially opened the Jasper County Democratic Headquarters for the 2018 general election.
Local Democrats gathered at 8 a.m. to celebrate and discuss strategies for the upcoming election. Smith believes they have “good, solid candidates” this year and is confident that they will come out victorious.
Smith said their goals this election include reelecting Allen and Breckenridge, maintaining their Jasper County Board of Supervisors seat, and winning the governorship.
The volunteers gathered for the occasion were visibly excited and ready to go, especially Newton couple Gayla Snook and Cindy Pollard. Pollard and Snook met in 1999 and have been helping the Jasper County Democrats campaign ever since.
“We thought ‘what is the fastest way we can get married?’ and that would be electing Democrats into office,” Pollard said.
Though same-sex marriage was legalized in Iowa nearly a decade ago, Pollard and Snook continue to knock on doors and support their political party. In 2014, Pollard was credited with turning out more Democratic votes than any other volunteer in the state. She was also featured by the New York Times in 2016 for her work volunteering with the Clinton campaign.
While Pollard and other local Democrats are preparing, the Jasper County Republicans have also been planning and strategizing. Jasper County Republicans County Chair, Thad Nearmyer, said they have had fundraisers for their candidates and are trying to get the word out.
“We plan to send people out door knocking on targeted voters,” Nearmyer said. “We want to try and increase our absentee ballots.”
Nearmyer said their goal is to have a headquarters set up by early August but until then, will be working without one.
Smith said Jasper County Democrats are still searching for a field organizer to manage party outreach, growth, and programs within the community.