By: C.J. Petersen, Democratic Candidate for Iowa State Senate District 6

Growing up in western Iowa, I knew my neighbors. I felt safe, secure, and connected. My family didn’t have everything, but in small towns with big hearts, I learned the values of hard work and community.

My mom worked 40+ hours a week, obeyed the law, and paid her taxes. Her full-time job paid just enough we didn’t qualify for food assistance but sometimes wasn’t quite enough to make ends meet. I vividly recall one year when Mom had to borrow my birthday money to buy food for my little brother and me. That memory reminds me even the hardest workers need a little extra help sometimes and the importance of helping those in need. (You never know when it might be you.)

My dad taught me to love the Chicago Cubs. He and saved enough to buy a home, but Dad suffered from depression. His struggle taught me mental illness can impact even the strongest people we know.

My parents’ resilience and my faith in God helped me through the darkest hours of my life. For nearly three years, I have been blessed with sobriety and spiritual growth. I am grateful not only for my family and friends but also for Trinity Episcopal Church in Denison, where I serve as a worship leader.

These are the kind of family values I believe in: Talking to each other, differences and all. Taking care of our neighbors. A village that includes all families, those with a mom and dad and those with a single mom, two dads, a guardian or whatever they may be. Because whether our children are biological, adopted, or fostered, they are all miracles, and they are the next generation of Iowans.

We all know the politicians who run campaigns light on policy and heavy on hypocrisy. They talk a lot about family values, but then they make it clear if you don’t look or sound or think a certain way, suddenly your family doesn’t matter much to them.

I don’t think that’s very representative of the sense: Let’s find our common ground and get things done.


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