Four activists inducted into Linn County Democrats' Hall of Fame

Golden, Horn, Peterson, Ross honored Saturday

Sen. Wally Horn and his wife, Phyllis Peterson.
Sen. Wally Horn and his wife, Phyllis Peterson.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Four longtime activists have been honored by the Linn County Democratic Party.

Helane Golden, Harvey Ross, Phyllis Peterson and her husband, Sen. Wally Horn, were inducted into the county party’s Hall of Fame Saturday.

“This is a great group of individuals who have all contributed in a variety of ways, but all driven to make a difference,” said Linn County Democratic Chairman Bret Nilles.

Each contributed to local and presidential campaigns in various way, Nilles said.

“If you wanted to have a successful event and volunteers organized, you called Helane,” he said. “If you needed advice on a campaign or party rules, you called Harvey. If you wanted to know anything about education and the legislative process, Phyllis was the one to call. And if you wanted to know about winning campaigns, who to contact on an issue or about getting legislation passed, we called Wally.”

Nilles also noted that three of the four spent several years in education as teachers “and still continue to reach out in promoting education through volunteering as tutors, as Helane does, or in promoting our schools and education at the State Capitol as Wally and Phyllis have.”

Ross, he added, has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community through his leadership of the Stonewall Democrats.

Golden, 66, a retired teacher, is a longtime activist who has worked for several candidates’ campaign and causes over the years. In addition to her work for the party, Golden painted homes after the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids and organized food and clothing drives for local pantries. She also was involved in collecting donations for veterans and toys for Four Oaks’ annual Christmas drive, and supported the “high-five” line that greeted athletes at the Special Olympics.

She recently organized a blood drive with the Hawkeye Area Labor Council and the Linn County Democrats.

Ross, 71, is another longtime party activist, who is well-known for his knowledge of rules and procedures. He’s been a member of the county, congressional district and state central committees. In 2000, he ran for the Iowa Senate. Ross also has been a key contributor to congressional district central committee and is chairman of the Linn County Stonewall Democrats, the official caucus within the Democratic Party that works to promote and protect LGBTQ rights.

In his fifth decade in the Iowa Legislature, Horn, 83, is known as the “dean of the dome.” Horn served five terms in the House and now plans to retire when his fifth four-year term in the Senate ends in January 2019.

During his tenure, Horn has seen the legislative process from all sides — as a member of the minority and of the majority, as a committee chairman and as majority leader from 1992 to 1996. In 1995, President Bill Clinton accepted his invitation to address the Iowa Legislature, the first time a president has spoken in the Senate chamber.

In addition to his legislative career, Horn was a high school teacher, coach and information facilitator for the Cedar Rapids public schools. An Army veteran, Horn earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Truman State University and has done additional graduate work.

In Cedar Rapids, he serves on the boards of civic and professional organizations. He is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Peterson, 70, has served alongside of Horn, working as her husband’s clerk during Iowa legislative sessions and his partner in representing northwest and southwest Cedar Rapids. She’s been involved with the party for more than 40 years.

With a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and a doctorate from the University of Iowa, Peterson worked for Cedar Rapids Community Schools, Grant Wood Area Education Association and Kirkwood Community College directing Star Schools, a federal program.


She also has served on the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System Board of Investment since 2004.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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