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People you should meet: Six young politicians ready to take on the world

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Carly Weber  ::   UPDATED: 21 January 2014 | 2:14 pm   ::  

http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_yp2.jpg0702_hoo_yp2



Young blood: Get to know the Corridor’s emerging leaders


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_natewillemsnew.jpg0702_hoo_natewillemsnewNate Willems, 30, Lisbon
Iowa State Representative, D-Lisbon

There’s a smile on Nate Willems’ face each time he arrives for work at the State Capitol despite the two hour drive between Des Moines and his home in Lisbon, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He says walking up the steps to work under the golden dome helps him keep the proper perspective.
During the legislative session, you’ll find him in Des Moines or practicing law in Cedar Rapids at Sole, McManus, Pearson & Willems, P.C.
At 30, Nate already has a deep interest in politics.
“I decided many years ago that I want my life and work to have meaning, and I find that meaning in public service,” he says. “Politics is public service.”
Nate, a lifelong Iowan, thinks other young adults should participate in politics too.
“People can choose to observe politics or get into it to make some positive impact,” he says. “Since we all have a large stake in the decisions made; I think it makes sense to try to affect the outcomes.”
Did you know?
Nate’s perfect Iowa summer day consists of time with his family and breakfast at Gwen’s in Lisbon or dinner at the Lincoln Café in Mount Vernon.


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_brentolesonnew.jpg0702_hoo_brentolesonnewBrent Oleson, 38, Marion
Linn County Supervisor, District 4

Brent Oleson grew up in a politically engaged family in Burlington. From an early age his family influenced his interest in politics, but not necessarily his point of view. Raised by his lifelong Democrat mother, Oleson became an active Republican as a teenager.
“I think other young people should be involved in politics because they tend to favor policies of progress and change, whereas older citizens tend to favor status quo policies,” he says. “If you’re not involved as a young person, then all you get is unimaginative status quo responses to our community’s challenges.”
Did you know?
Every July Brent spends five days on the confluence of the Jack’s Fork River and the Current River in Missouri with high school buddies. He’s been taking this yearly guys-only trip for 20 years.


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_benrogersnew.jpg0702_hoo_benrogersnewBen Rogers, 29, Cedar Rapids
Linn County Supervisor, District 3

This summer you might see this young politician on the run.
When Ben Rogers isn’t at work serving the Linn County Board of Supervisors, he’s training for the Chicago Marathon. This will be his third marathon in the windy city. He hopes to beat his personal best of 3 hours, 30 minutes.
Ben encourages other young adults to get involved simply by showing up.
“I live by this philosophy: decisions are made by those who show up,” he says. “There are many ways emerging leaders can help affect change: running for office, joining a board, applying for a commission and volunteering.”
He’s witnessed great things in Cedar Rapids since the Floods of 2008, he says.
“The flood showed me what a truly interconnected community we are, strangers helping strangers and neighbors helping neighbors,” Rogers says. “That is something we should all be proud of.”
Did you know?
By age 12, Ben Rogers could surf, sail and was a certified scuba diver. He lived in New Zealand as a child on the beach at Thorne’s Bay.


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_tylerolsonnew.jpg0702_hoo_tylerolsonnewTyler Olson, 32, Cedar Rapids
Iowa State Representative, D-Cedar Rapids

You could say Tyler Olson has roots in Iowa. Make those deep roots.
He’s a sixth generation Iowan and a fourth generation Cedar Rapidian. Tyler was motivated to pursue a political office because he wanted to ensure future Iowans had the same opportunities he had growing up in the state.
Tyler would like to see other young adults get active in politics because, “We need fresh ideas and input from young adults about where they want the state to be in 10 or 20 years,” he says.
He works at his family’s business, Paulson Electric, and his favorite summer day in Iowa would be spent golfing in the early morning, followed by coffee and the news. His afternoon would be filled with his wife Sarah, son Leo, and their retired racing greyhound, Bus.
Did you know?
Tyler Olson’s perfect Fourth of July menu is grilled cheeseburgers, fresh sliced tomatoes, wild rice salad and ice cream.


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_brianfagannew.jpg0702_hoo_brianfagannewBrian Fagan, 37, Cedar Rapids
Cedar Rapids City Council, At-Large

Brian Fagan has been big into community service since grade school. But after a political internship during college, he was hooked.
“I learned a lot from those experiences,” he says. “I saw personally how public policy and political process directly impacts individuals.”
Young adults should get involved now to affect how their community looks in the future, Fagan says.
“Taking part in government will help eliminate some of the engagement gap and give young adults a significant role in planning the city,” he says. “This is the time where the agenda for this community is being set for the next 100 years and it’s important to be engaged.”
Did you know?
Brian Fagan will spend the Fourth of July running the Fifth Season 8k; afterward he’ll lounge around with family, friends and food.


http://hooplanow.com/files/2009/06/0702_hoo_nickwagner.jpg0702_hoo_nickwagnerNick Wagner, 35, Marion
Iowa State Representative, R-Marion

Nick Wagner got involved in politics after attending a Marion City Council meeting. He went to the meeting because he was interested how decisions being made would affect his family. He came home that night and told his wife, Mandie, he’d like to get involved. Nine months later he was elected to the council.
Nick would like to see others become interested in politics too.
“People of any age can serve,” he says. “It’s possible to serve on a city board or committee that doesn’t meet weekly so it won’t require as much time. You still have influence and help make important decisions for your community.”
This summer you might see Nick outdoors more than indoors. He enjoys fly-fishing, camping, backpacking, biking, running and swimming. One way to combine at least a few of those interests? He competes in triathlons.
Did you know?
When Nick and his family were invited by their new Marion neighbors to see their first fireworks display in Cedar Rapids, they knew they were living a very friendly place.
— MISTI

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