We have a rich history here in Polk County.  Here are some interviews with some of the folks who built our party.  You can see many more videos on our Youtube Channel at www.youtube.com/PolkCountyDems. 

Interview with Lex Hawkins

Part 1 and 2 


Interview with Mary Campos

Part 1, 2 and 3




Interview with Don Rowen



Interview with Ed Skinner

2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Part 1, 2 and 3:



ED SKINNER – Eastern Polk County has always been home to Ed Skinner.  He attended Runnells Consolidated High School and graduated from Drake University with two professional law degrees and a degree in science.  In his early career, Ed clerked for Altoona attorney James P. Irish, who became Ed’s mentor and offered him a partner position in that firm.  Ed served 20 years as Altoona city attorney, and is currently the city attorney for Pleasant Hill.  Ed is a member of the American Bar Association, Iowa State Bar Association, Polk County Bar Association and Iowa Trial Lawyers Association.

Ed was instrumental in the development of the Southeast Polk Scholarship Fund, the James P. Irish Law Scholarship at Southeast Polk for students attending Drake University Law School, and the Southeast Polk Vocational-Technical Exposition at Southeast Polk Schools. He was also instrumental in establishing East Polk Regional Development, East Pointe Business Park, and numerous infrastructure projects in the East Polk area including the Highway 65 Bypass, business developments and residential developments.

He served as a state representative in Iowa’s 63rd and 64th Legislative General Assemblies from 1968 – 1972. Among his achievements in the legislature, Ed was instrumental in the formation of Living History Farms.  In 1984, he chaired Citizens For Progress Through Racing, he was construction chair for the original Prairie Meadows building project, and he served on the initial Prairie Meadows Board of Directors (1986 – 1992) and Grant Advisory Board (1986 – 1992). He was instrumental in establishing the Pony Express Riders of Iowa, and he also assisted in the initial organization of the Altoona Chamber of Commerce.

Ed is a member of Altoona Lions, East Polk Rotary, Altoona Chamber of Commerce, Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, King David Lodge, Scottish Rite, York Rite of Free Masonry, and Za-Ga-Zig Shrine.  He has also served on the following boards of directors: Southeast Polk Schools, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Valley Bank, Hospice of Central Iowa, and Terrace Hill Foundation.

His community honors include Southeast Polk Hall of Honor, Altoona Chamber’s Bill Newell Award, Pleasant Hill Citizen of the Year, Prairie Meadows Hall of Fame, Lions Clubs Distinguished Achievements in Leadership and Service, Keep Iowa Beautiful, Rotary International’s Paul Harris Fellow, American Trial Lawyers and Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review.

Ed and Lois Skinner have three children, Geri Huser, Julie Stewart and Brad Skinner, as well as seven grandchildren.



Former State and County Party Chair

Jerry Crawford, Part 1 and 2:




Whether it’s horse races or political races, Jerry Crawford knows what he’s talking about.  Crawford is a Des Moines attorney, horse breeder, and longtime Polk County Democrat.  His dedication to the Party and to Democrats in general is unsurpassed.  He has been the Polk County Democratic Chair (1976), and has been inducted into the Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame (2004).  Crawford served as the State Chair for several Democratic Presidential Nominees, including Dukakis, Clinton (twice), Gore, and Kerry.  He has been instrumental in a few other national campaigns, as well.

Jerry is the managing owner of the Iowa Energy, an NBA Development League team that calls Des Moines home.  He is a Managing Member of Donegal Racing, a partnership that buys horses that have the potential of making it to the Kentucky Derby.  Jerry practices law for Crawford & Mauro Law Firm.


Democratic Activist Marilyn Spina:



Former Secretary of State Michael Mauro:



Michael Mauro is a dedicated public servant, with an emphasis on “servant”.  Currently, he serves as the state’s Labor Commissioner.  He was elected to be Iowa’s Secretary of State in 2006 and served admirably, overseeing the transformation from electronic voting machines to those with a viable paper trail.  He was one of a very small handful of Secretaries of State who did not have plans for seeking a higher office.  Previously, Michael was elected and re-elected as the Polk County Auditor and had worked previously in the Auditor’s office for several years before being elevated by Polk County voters to the run the office.  He has been a candidate for Polk County Supervisor and narrowly lost the election in a predominantly Republican district.  He began his public service out of college as a high school government teacher and coach in Council Bluffs.  He is a Des Moines native and graduate of Drake University.




Get to Know Congressman Neal Smith:



Neal Smith is a lawyer, an author, a farmer, a veteran of World War II – as a bomber pilot earning a Purple Heart and Air Medal, a former Member of Congress, a former assistant Polk County Attorney, and a long time Polk County Democrat.

Congressman Smith attended Drake University Law School and has kept close ties since his graduation in 1950.  The Legal Clinic is named after him and his wife Bea.  He is the longest serving Member of Congress from Iowa (36 years), and served as vice chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives.  His hard work, vision, and influence brought several projects back to Polk County and surrounding area, as witnessed by the many projects named after Smith, including the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge and the Neal Smith Trail, a 24 mile paved multi-use trail that runs from Big Creek State Park, along Saylorville Lake and into Des Moines.

Neal was also the national president of Young Democratic Clubs of America from 1953-1955, and served as the Polk County Democratic Party Chairman.  His autobiography was published in 1996:  Mr. Smith Went to Washington: From Eisenhower to Clinton.



Meet Roxanne Conlin:



Roxanne Conlin is Iowa’s First Woman. She was one of the first two women ever to be a United States Attorney (Southern District of Iowa). She was the first woman president of the American Association of Justice; and the first woman to chair the Roscoe Pound Foundation. In 1982 she was narrowly defeated in her quest to become Iowa’s first woman governor. In 2010, she ran against six-term Republican Senator Charles Grassley.

She founded and was the first chair of the Iowa Women’s Political Caucus, and the founder and first chair of the Civil Justice Foundation, which provides direct support to grass roots organizations and disabled individuals.

Roxanne has also served as Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, been inducted into the Iowa Woman’s Hall of Fame and was president and general counsel of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. She has accomplished these feats and provided service to her community, the Polk County Democrats, as well as state and national Democrats, all while owning and managing her law firm in Des Moines, where she exclusively represents people who have been harmed by others, whether by discrimination, products, doctors or vehicles.



15 minutes with Art Hedberg:

Tom Henderson sits down with longtime Democratic Party activist and former Polk County Chair, Art Hedberg to talk about the history of our organization and his experiences.



Art Hedberg, a life-long Democrat, began practicing law in 1954, mostly in areas of labor law and workers’ compensation. He once served as President of the Iowa Association of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.  Art has been politically active in the Party since the late 50’s and early 60’s when he led the Iowa Young Democrats.

With other Party leaders he helped to transform what was once a minority party in Iowa to what it is today.  He was instrumental in making the county transformation from predominately Republican to totally Democratic. His success was based upon door-to-door precinct walking and face-to-face conversations.

Art has served on the Polk County Democratic Central Committee for years, has served as Chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, and he has attended three Democratic National Conventions as a delegate.  He is an active octogenarian, continuing his love of woodworking (he’s an excellent furniture craftsman) and his participation in the current Party Central Committee.  It was Art’s idea to form the Polk County Democrats History Committee.