By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY— In November of 1864, General William T. Sherman began his famous “march to the sea.” In November 2012, Steve C. Sherman hopes Johnson County voters will send him marching to the State Capitol in an effort to represent them in the House of Representatives.
Sherman is the Republican candidate for newly-formed House District 77, which zig-zags from North Liberty, Tiffin, Shueyville, Swisher and Oxford down to Frytown, past Iowa City, Coralville and Hills to Lone Tree. The district was created in last year’s redistricting effort. The North Liberty businessman has one competitor so far, Democrat Sally Stutsman, a long time member of the County Board of Supervisors, and resident of rural Hills.
Sherman, a farm boy from a Century Farm South of Grinnell, lives in North Liberty with Amy, his wife of nearly 18 years, and children Mollie, Cole, Brock and Sariah. Despite persistent dreams of the Rocky Mountains, Sherman and family have made Iowa their home. However, things just aren’t what they used to be.
Over the past three years Sherman has come to the conclusion that we are at a critical juncture, and became afraid his kids wouldn’t enjoy the freedom, liberty, American exceptionalism and the ability to become whatever they want in the way that his generation, and generations before; have experienced. Sitting in Baxa’s Sutliff Store and Tavern on a recent afternoon, Sherman said a person could come from anywhere in this state, in this country, and go on to fulfill a dream. However, he also sees an ever-expanding government with ever increasing regulations squelching those dreams and ambitions, such as starting one’s own business.
“It’s becoming harder and harder to start a business,” he said as the owner of an agricultural buildings dealership. He also said in society in general, “there have been so many changes at the core level.” Sherman said he grew tired of yelling at the television set and decided to try and do something about it instead. He was approached with the prospect of running for the State House and met with several state legislators and their families to determine the feasibility of mounting a campaign.
“They thought it was a novel idea,” he said of a conservative running for office in Johnson County. However, the district he would represent leans more Republican and Independent, which gives him hope. He’s already picked up at least one big endorsement, that of former Governor Robert Ray, who led the state from 1969 until 1983.
Deep in the Sherman bloodline was another Sherman concerned about the threat of a large and unchecked government. While Steve C. Sherman is willing to risk the public scrutiny of a political campaign for what he sees as the greater good, Roger Sherman of Connecticut was willing to risk his very life as he and Robert Morris of Pennsylvania were the only two to sign all of our nation’s founding documents:the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.
When asked about some of the hot button topics currently facing the state legislature, topics which will likely continue to be discussed in the next legislative session as well, Sherman does not mince words.
On commercial property tax reform, Sherman said, “It’s got to be smaller. You can go through North Liberty and ask business owners, they’ll all tell you it’s ridiculous.” Asked about proposals for the state to back-fill municipal budgets impacted by the lack of revenue and the number of mandates placed upon the communities, Sherman said it’s a matter of living within a budget.
“Most issues, no matter how complicated, can be brought down to what’s good for a family,” said Sherman. Half of the state’s budget comes from the federal government in one form or another, he said. “Iowa needs to un-hook a little from the Fed.” Sherman also wants to see a focus placed on attracting business to Johnson County in particular, and Iowa in general. He sees lower taxes as an incentive helping to make Iowa the obvious choice.
The second amendment and gun rights have been a point of contention, with House Republicans locking horns with Senate Democrats, according to Sherman.
Sherman is a proud life-long member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) who sees gun ownership by lawful citizens as an American right, and something he’d be happy to fight for. He looks to his own upbringing on the farm and as an avid outdoorsman. “If it meant we could get there in a truck, take a dog, a gun, or a fishing pole…I was in,” he said.
On the third-rail topic of same sex marriage, Sherman put it very directly: “Put it to a vote of the people and live with (the result of that vote), one way or the other. Let the people have their say, then deal with it.”
A proposed increase in the state’s gasoline tax has prompted debate this session. While the likelihood of such a measure passing this session seems to have lessened, it is still very much a topic of discussion.
“I can’t see why we’d raise taxes now (with record gasoline prices and the looming threat of $4 per gallon or even higher on the horizon).” Sherman is for further developing domestic supplies while acknowledging the environmentalists who have worked tirelessly to stop or otherwise limit oil production.
“I’m an outdoorsman, I want a clean environment. But, that said, we need to use that environment. It’s a gift from God.”
Governor Terry Branstad is pushing for education reform this session, drawing mixed reactions from both parties and both chambers. Sherman said the bottom line is, “at the end of the day, it has to be to the betterment of the kids (whatever ‘reform’ entails).” He sees a decline in education in the state, something that used to be a point of pride. “If we’re losing the education, what’s there to keep (Iowa) great? We need to figure out what’s gone awry.”
With civil discourse at a premium, both in the national arena as well as state and local, Sherman called for civility in the political process.
“We’ve got to get some stuff done. We need to work together and not get so angry with each other.”
On his way to the State House, Sherman plans to knock on every door in the district, to introduce himself and conveying his desire to always put the best interests of rural Johnson County first.
“I didn’t really set out to do this as my life’s plan. But, I’m ready, willing and able to go serve,” said Sherman.
Sherman has recently activated a website with more information: http://www.shermaninthehouse.com . He also is utilizing social media with a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ShermanInTheHouse .