Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 19, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     1/24/17

In this edition:

*Summer of the Arts
*Looking Back on Obama
*Free Tax Help!
*Did You Know?

*Summer of the Arts
         I have recently joined the Board of Directors for the Summer of the Arts (SOTA). I am extremely honored to join this group!

         You are undoubtedly familiar with Arts Fest, Jazz Fest, Soul Fest, the Outdoor Movie Series, and the Friday Night Concert Series. These are SOTA’s flagship events. They also happen to be some of my favorite things about living in Iowa City!

         According to the SOTA website: “The mission of Summer of the Arts is to build community by bringing people together in the heart of Iowa City to experience, learn about, and enjoy free arts and cultural programs.”

“Summer of the Arts brings people together to experience the arts, out loud, in the heart of Iowa City. Since 2005, Summer of the Arts has hosted summertime, family-friendly, arts and cultural festivals. We create synergy with marketing, fundraising, and operations while maintaining the unique identity of each of our five events. Our generous sponsors and donors ensure we are able to offer free, family-friendly, high quality entertainment every summer for our community to enjoy.”

         I hope you will continue to attend Summer of the Arts events, but also to support SOTA with your time and talent! For more info, see:

*Looking Back on Obama
         The Presidency of Barack Obama is coming to an end, and I decided to take a look back at the past decade.

         I say decade, because I was a very early Obama supporter. The only local person I know who was committed before me was former Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn. Ross and I recruited many of the movers and shakers who joined onto the campaign later. It may sound completely over the top and egotistical, and perhaps it is, but I honestly believe Ross and I made a big difference in the election of the 44th President! Given where we live and how early we committed, I really believe that!

         Barack Obama burst onto the national scene with his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. But he appeared on the local scene on Monday, November 6, 2006. That night Obama headlined a rally on the Iowa City Ped Mall that drew a crowd unlike anything seen there before or since. I was one of the lucky folks who got to stand alongside then-Senator, not-yet-candidate Obama on the stage, and it remains one of the coolest moments of my life!

         Over the next few months, I met the staff people as they arrived. I helped them locate an office. I introduced the Obama staff to the glories of UI Surplus, and spent a few hundred dollars of my own money on getting the Obama office off the ground. I went through lists of hundreds of people in an attempt to identify future supporters. It was a lot of work! Slowly but surely, others signed on, and momentum grew.

The staff people were special, too. Chris Liddell-Westefeld, Simeon Talley, and many other young people carved out a special place in my heart. Wise beyond their years, I learned a lot more from them than they ever learned from me.

It had been a long time since I was in so early on a candidate… I had just finished serving 4 years as the Chair of the Johnson County Democrats, and though I supported a candidate in each race (Bradley, then Dean) I had to walk a fine line as Party Chair. Prior to that, I had not particularly cared for Bill Clinton. So Obama was my first opportunity in quite some time to go all in on a candidate, and I made the most of it!

         Caucus night 2008 was another amazing moment. Given what has happened politically since then, I think that night may go down as the greatest night in the history of Iowa politics. The combination of the turnout, the young people, the “upset” – I do not think it will ever be topped! Candidate Obama returned to Iowa several times after that, as did President Obama. But Caucus night ’08 remains special.

         So, we elected the first African American President. We elected the first President of my generation. We set records for turnout. We elected President Obama twice.

         So what was accomplished during the Obama Presidency? The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) provided health insurance to 20 million people who were previously without. It required coverage for preexisting conditions, and allowed children to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26. I wish he had gone further, but he lacked support in the Congress. The Stimulus Program saved our economy, and Dodd Frank and other Wall Street reforms reduced the risk of another financial catastrophe. Again, I wish he had gone further, but he lacked support in the Congress. He brought troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan; again, I wish he had gone further. He brought Osama bin Laden to justice. He saved US auto industry (and their suppliers!) He ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He ended the Bush torture policies. He removed banks from student loan process. He increased fuel efficiency standards. He passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He appointed two progressive Supreme Court Justices. He protected over 2 million acres of public land. He invested heavily in renewable energy. He helped legalize same sex marriage. He opened up relations with Cuba. He signed the Iran Nuclear deal. He signed the Paris Climate Accords. That is a VERY consequential record! And he did it all with no scandals, and facing more opposition than any President since Andrew Johnson.

         I was proud to Caucus for him twice, and proud to vote for him twice. Seeing my name on the ballot with his is another thing I will never forget!

         I remain a fan of President Obama. Yes, I wanted more. But don’t we always? I really believe in 50 years he will be viewed as a great President. And I feel blessed to have played a small part in the whole thing!

         Ross, my friend… we have had our political differences, but we both got this one right! The Country may have just taken a step backwards, but the arc of history still bends toward justice. The future is bright. YES WE CAN!

*Free Tax Help!
Don’t pay a fee to get your refund! The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program provides trained volunteers that will help you file your taxes. This service is available FOR FREE to people who earned less than $55,000 in 2016. E-filing is available, and interpretation services are available at many sites or by appointment.
“You Earned It. Now Claim It!”

Sites are the Iowa City Public Library, SEJH in Iowa City, NWJH in Coralville, and Garner Elementary in North Liberty. Services are available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday – see
for the complete schedule.

Spanish interpreters are available; interpreters for other languages can be scheduled by calling 356-6090.

*DID YOU KNOW?  Some Obama firsts: First African American President. First President born outside of the 48 contiguous states and first born in Hawaii. First President to publicly endorse same-sex marriage. First President to appoint multiple women to the Supreme Court (Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). First President to visit a federal prison. First President to visit Hiroshima. First sitting President to publish a scientific paper. First sitting President to visit Trinidad and Tobago, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Kenya, and Ethiopia.

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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