Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge is among less than a handful of lieutenant governors around the country who’re designated as the head of state-level homeland security efforts. Governor Chet Culver asked Judge to take the role before the two were sworn into office in January.
"Getting our state prepared to face disaster whether natural or manmade is a complex process that involves a great deal of uncertainty," Culver says. "We need to be prepared to manage the unimaginable." Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Ron Dardis worked on farm- and food-security issues with Judge when she was Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture for the past eight years.
Dardis is part of the "homeland security team" that Judge now heads. "Lieutenant Governor Judge recognizes that our state must be in a position to prevent and respond to attacks not only on our vital agricultural resources, but also threats to the safety and security of all Iowans," Dardis says. Judge says over the past month she has been meeting with Dardis and other key state officials to beef up the "structure" for state responses to disasters.
"We do not want to leave the impression that we believe that there is any imminent threat to the citizens of the state of Iowa," Judge says. "But we know that it is important that we are prepared." Judge says it’s important to be prepared for whatever comes our way, and she cites the example of the difficulties the citizens of Louisiana suffered through when Hurricane Katrina struck. "We are much more likely to suffer from a national disaster — tornadoes, floods — than the threat of a terrorist event here in Iowa," Judge says. "…We have to be ready for whatever happens."
Judge says one of her immediate priorities will be convincing federal officials to send Iowa more federal tax money to purchase equipment for "first responders." While Judge is among just a handful of lieutenant governors heading up such security issues at the state level, she is not unique in the Midwest because Nebraska’s lieutenant governor heads homeland security in that neighboring state.