Guest Columnists

This election, encourage participation and engagement by all

Bret Nilles, a finance process manager for Rockwell Collins Inc., is a commissioner on the

Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.
Bret Nilles, a finance process manager for Rockwell Collins Inc., is a commissioner on the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.

I was disappointed to see the recent guest column by Gary Ellis, Secretary of the Linn County Republicans. He seems to have a misunderstanding of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s outreach to Spanish speaking citizens. His belief that Democrats are planning to use immigrants here illegally to steal elections is ridiculous. As a spokesman for the Linn County GOP, he should know better.

Doesn’t he realize that there are many non-English speaking United States citizens that want to participate in our electoral process and vote legally? It saddens me that there is a belief in their camp that getting as many of our citizens as possible to vote could somehow be an illegal act.

My fear is that this feeling is coming from the top of their ticket. Trump’s anti-immigrant feelings are clear, and his implication that if he doesn’t win then the election must have been rigged seems to be flowing downhill to the GOP rank and file.

Also, Ellis’s assertion that, “the public cost for welfare, schools and law enforcement are a huge drag on Americans, the U.S. economy and our legal system” rings false to us. Democrats believe that putting money into education is the very best investment that we can possibly make in our future — and the growth of our economy and our country. We believe that funding local police and our legal system protects our democracy and our safety. We understand that families who are displaced in life by circumstances outside of their control need compassion, not criticism.

We hear Republican candidates talk about their desire to improve education, or for better law enforcement, but they never seem to want to provide sufficient funding to actually get this done. Because of this, their message rings hollow.

This same type of opinion piece has been put out over the last several years by the Branstad administration, other GOP elected officials and candidates. They say they want to make Iowa’s education system the best, but they continue to vote against fully funding our schools once they get back to Des Moines. Now we get their version of “the truth” which is that this funding is a drag on us Americans.

One thing he did get right was about Hillary “Clinton’s temperament to be president of all Americans”. That is something that she does want to be. Unfortunately, the message from the GOP is America is really only for those individuals that they perceive as meeting their standards.


Lastly, their attempt to foster doubt and fear in or electoral process is very bad for both of our parties and for our country. We need to encourage participation and engagement by all of our citizens — and know that as we do so, we are building a better country on solid principles.

Democrats are striving to engage all those people who believe the United States in great already, but understand that we can still strive to do even better. This is what the dreamers want to be a part of.

• Bret Nilles is chairman of the Linn County Democrats. Comments:



As record numbers of students around the state participate in walkouts and other demonstrations against gun violence, we are urging local public schools not only to recognize the constitutionally-assured free speech rights of thei ...

For most children, childhood is filled with playing, learning and growing. But for the large number of children who face hunger, even basic staples like milk may be missing. Unfortunately, one in seven children in our community go ...

Give us feedback

Have you found an error or omission in our reporting? Tell us here.

Do you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.