State lawmakers from Marshalltown and Ocheyedan have won this year’s editions of an award named in honor of Iowa native Herbert Hoover, the former president who won acclaim for his efforts to feed the hungry in Europe after World War I, but lost his reelection bid when the Great Depression hit.
Representative Mark Smith, a Democrat from Marshalltown, was recognized today for his 30-year career as a social worker and his efforts, as legislator, to protect children. Smith’s work at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, where he counseled emergency workers, was also cited.
Senator David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, was recognized partly for his efforts to boost West Branch, Herbert Hoover’s birthplace. From 1983 to ’93, Johnson owned the newspaper in West Branch and worked on a variety of economic development initiatives when he lived and worked there.
This is the second year the awards have been given to a Republican and a Democrat in the state legislature. Former Governor Robert Ray served as emcee for the awards ceremony. "You exemplify the term ‘uncommon public servants’ and this award is greatly deserved," Ray said.
Ray joked that as governor, he didn’t fully appreciate the work of the legislature, but Ray said in the years since he left office he’s developed greater admiration for the legislative branch of state government.