Learning from Rep. Mary Wolfe:
I will SHOW UP, LISTEN, and
DO THE WORK
My sister, Mary Wolfe, has represented Clinton and parts of Clinton County in Eastern Iowa in the Iowa House since 2010. When Mary was approached by Polly Butka, a seven-term representative from Clinton, to run for Polly's seat upon her retirement, Mary didn't jump at the chance. Instead, she spent time with Polly, learning more about what a run and what service in the House would mean. Mary talked to community leaders, friends, and family about the support she would want to run for office and the work she could do once elected. And she made sure she understood the issues that were important to people in Clinton and to Iowans statewide.
Then she jumped in.
Mary won her first election in 2010 and has served her community for 12 years. In 2022, Mary announced her retirement from the Iowa House so that she can focus full-time on her law practice.
Twice--in 2019 and again in this session (2022)--I have had the pleasure to serve as Mary's clerk in Des Moines. I help manage her schedule and communications; assure she has access to pending legislation; and try to make sure she doesn't forget to eat or drink water during her hectic days. Most importantly, I have learned from Mary how to be accessible, diligent, and authentic when serving as an elected representative in Iowa. Here are some of the most important lessons I learned from my sister, Rep. Mary Wolfe...
On the parade route in Charlotte (2020)
DeWitt parade in 2018 with family
During the legislative session (January--early April), Mary participates in monthly forums in Clinton and DeWitt. Mary attends community events and uses her own social media to support community activities and accomplishments. And, come summer, she marches in parades--in Clinton, DeWitt, Charlotte. Whenever possible, my family and I will join her, passing out SO MUCH candy!
2016 in Clinton, post-parade cool-down.
I will be available to hear from Iowa Citians, answer questions (or find answers to questions), and be present in the community.
Mary's constituents reach out to her often, by phone, email, mail, and just by stopping her in the grocery store. Mary listens to their concerns and ideas, sharing what information she has about pending legislation or legislation that didn't make it on the House floor. Even with Mary disagrees with a constituent, she spends time listening to their reasoning for their opinion. I have never seen anyone walk away from one of those conversations angry or upset. Instead, they appreciate that Mary listens and takes their concerns seriously. Even if they end up on different sides of an issue, her constituents respect her for being mindful of all sides.
During debate in the Iowa House;
at the Iowa Supreme Court legislative event
We live in a community with so many talented and knowledgeable people. I have no qualms saying, "I don't know enough about this. Tell me more."
Do the Work
Mary spends most nights during the legislative session with her phone and laptop open, reading and researching pending legislation. As an attorney, she considers each element and often each word of a bill, contemplating whether the bill does too little or too much to address the issue for which it is targeted. Mary keeps in touch with her constituents in Clinton