Heavy snow Monday didn't keep about 100 Marion Country residents from attending their parties’ caucuses. Republicans and Democrats were split 50-50 on the frigid night, with about 50 Democrats at Knoxville High School and about 50 Republicans divided between Northstar Elementary in Knoxville and Madison Elementary in Pella.
“I’m very surprised and pleased with the amount of folks that showed up for caucus on such a brutal night,” said Megan Suhr, chair of the Marion County Democratic Party. “It would have been easy just to stay home.”
Many Republicans called county chair T. Waldmann-Williams on Monday to say that weather would keep them from coming, but the smaller group at Northstar had a better discussion, she said.
“It was nice that they were able to share platform ideas across precinct tables,” she said. “It also lets people get an idea of whether their ideas work for other people. You can only do that when it’s small.”
Over in Pella, GOP organizer Dan Spotten emphasized quality over quantity.
“I think the weather kept most folks home,” he said. “What I wasn't expecting was how badly people wanted to do the business of the caucus. The few and the mighty, as you will.”
Five Central College students slid over to Knoxville to represent Pella Precinct 4 at the Democratic caucus. Efrain Garcia said he was disappointed that the parties didn’t postpone the caucuses to a nicer night when more people could participate.
“When people feel like they have their voice heard, that’s when we win,” he said. “People feel like they have the power in their hands.”
The students currently favor Cathy Glasson in the crowded field for governor.
“I like her background as a nurse,” said Bailey Anderson. “It gives her a really nice perspective on health care, especially mental health issues. I like that she’s more geared toward service.”
Marta Morse has high hopes but no clear favorite.
“I hope we get somebody in there who is fiscally responsible, and I would really like to see them do something to get people to move here and stay here,” she said.
Education, health care and jobs are her biggest concerns, and she’s tried to see all the candidates.
“They could throw all of their names up and whatever one lands, I’d be happy,” she said. “I’m gonna have to make up my mind.”
Morse will have until June 5, when voters in both parties hold primary elections.
Over in Pella, Republicans heard speakers on behalf of Gov. Kim Reynolds, challenger Ron Corbett, agriculture secretary candidate Craig Lang, congressional candidate Christopher Peters and county supervisor candidate Kisha Jahner.
“Of course, I know Kim Reynolds pretty well,” said Pella participant Arlan De Heer. “We all should know her pretty well, but I was also happy to hear from the other (candidates).”
Caucus-goers in both parties Monday chose members to serve on their central committees and delegates to attend their county conventions. Democratic delegates might have greater responsibility than normal this year with eight candidates running for governor, Suhr said.
“We haven’t seen that in years,” she said. “There’s a good possibility that no one will get 35 percent in the primary, in which case, that will be decided at the state convention.”