Disclaimer: The words expressed are solely the opinion of the author and do not represent the IDP.
by Jason Frerichs
Last night at the special convention to nominate a candidate to fill an open seat in House District 22 in Pottawattamie County, a citizen journalist named Bryan Jack Holder was thrown out. Per the IDP Constitution: Article XII, “Section 5 – Open Meetings: All meetings of Democratic Central Committees and Conventions, and of their committees, shall be open in the same manner as an agency of the state government is required to hold open meetings.” Mr. Holder should have been allowed to stay and film the proceedings. I would understand if financial information was being discussed. When the IDP State Central Committee meets that is the only part of the meeting that is closed to the general public. The rest of the meeting to open to anyone who wants to come. I understand that Mr. Holder is running for the Libertarian nomination to fill this slot. That said, he should have been allowed to stay and film the proceedings. Why would a nominating convention need to be performed in secret? There wasn’t going to be any strategy or tactics discussed. A lot of people are placing the blame on the County Chair Linda Nelson but that isn’t entirely fair. The Central Committee members who voted to remove Mr. Holder share just as much of blame as Linda. It was a sad day for Democracy and a black eye for the Iowa Democratic Party. The optics are very bad given the recent lawsuits against the DNC and the party’s perceived lack of transparency.
PVI spoke with Mr. Holder and he issued the following statement, “The Iowa Democratic Party has problems on the county level. I doubt that JFK would have run a Citizen Journalist from a special convention in a public school advertised as open to the public, especially when the Democratic Party Constitution states that Party Conventions are to be treated as a public meeting of a State agency.” Mr. Holder identified himself both as a Libertarian and as a candidate when he showed up the meeting. He was friendly and did not try to hide who he was. If the Democrats are going to be the party of inclusion, that also means allowing people who they might disagree with to attend their meetings.
The unfortunate events overshadowed the fact that the Pott. County Central Committee nominated an excellent candidate. His name is Ray Stevens. According to an article written by Bleeding Heartland’s Laura Belin, “Ray Stevens grew up in a mobile home community south of Council Bluffs before serving in the Navy for five years. He studied engineering at Iowa Western Community College and the University of Nebraska at Omaha while working full-time at Griffin Pipe Products in Council Bluffs. Stevens later taught mechanical technology and manufacturing engineering technology at the community college for seven years. Since 2009, he has been director of facilities and grounds at the Council Bluffs Water Works.” He will face attorney Jon Jacobsen who won the Republican nomination at a convention held at the same time. Jacobsen is known for a KMA radio show he hosts with fellow attorney Dean Jennings, who happens to be a Democrat.
Update: Pott. County Chair Linda Nelson reached out and made the following statement: “Brian Jack Holder came in and was very disruptive. Our central committee was already underway when he arrived. We were first filling any vacancies in HD 22, adjourned and moved into our special nominating convention. Being a bully and disruptive he gets all the splash on social media. I asked Michael Moore to bring forward a discussion for our next central committee meeting. Michael arrived late, had a conversation w/ Holder in the parking lot and was upset upon his arrival, having missed the altercation that took place within the building. I know our folks would embrace what is a part of the party platform, there is no room however for bullies whose purpose is to disrupt. He never offered his press credentials either.”
Here is a link to a video showing the Pott. County Central Committee voting to eject Mr. Holder from the convention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWq1qgjx3ac
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus