December is a month for reflection.

As I look back over the last year, it’s been a tumultuous time for our state and nation.

I’ve heard from more Iowans than ever this year who are concerned about the future of our state.

I’ve heard from parents whose child lost health care because of Medicaid privatization. I’ve heard from educators concerned about rising class sizes and anemic state resources. I’ve heard from hard-working families worried about paying bills because their wages aren’t keeping up with rising costs. I’ve heard from small business owners who can’t afford health insurance next year because of uncertainty in our healthcare system.

Unfortunately, the divisive nature of politics today has done little to bring us together since the 2016 election. The good news is more Iowans are engaged and watching and contacting officials on the issues they care about. More than anything, I know the record number of Iowans who have contacted me over the last year want us to work together to improve their lives.

As I reflect on 2017, I am reminded of Robert Frost’s line: “It will not do to say of night, since darkness is what brings out your light.”

So, in this month when so many different religions and groups celebrate holidays and special occasions, I’m reminded that we have much to celebrate and much to give us hope.

This December, let us be reminded that there are few differences among us. One is identified by a system called “ABO;” our blood types. It is complicated as to who can share blood with whom, but in no way, is that connected to our skin color, our gender, or our ethnic heritage. We are, after all, all brothers and sisters.

As you enjoy the end of 2017, your customs, your family, and your friends; please keep in mind how much I appreciate your feedback and engagement. Working together, I believe we can all make a difference.

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State Rep. Mark Smith can be reached at 816 Roberts Terrace, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158, via email: mark.smith@legis.iowa.gov or at (641) 750-9278.