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John Soorholtz, public servant
December 31, 2012 - Mike Donahey
My interview with the late John Soorholtz of Melbourne is one I won't forget.
Reading his obituary brought back memories of a conversation with him in early November, 2006. He had announced his retirement from the Marshall County Board of Supervisors earlier that year.
I had selected him to be the cover story for the November, 2006 Marshall Times for his dedicated public service as Iowa State Senator (District 36) from 1983 to 1992, and supervisor from 1998 to 2006. “A Long-Time Public Servant,” was the cover story. The interview was a primer in politics and frankly, how to work with others of differing views. Soorholtz, a Republican, was long admired by Democrats state-wide.
Guidelines for getting work done included developing trust with fellow legislators regardless of party affiliation.
“As state senator, John was sometimes in the minority party, but he knew how to work with and get along with Democrats,” said Deane Adams in 2006. Adams is now a supervisor but then was county treasurer.
Soorholtz listed a second quality.
“It was important not to come off as a know-it-all,” he said. “I knew agriculture, but I did not know human services or transpiration, so I would ask those senators knowledgeable in those areas.” Avoiding grandstanding, and not being openly critical of the Democrat leadership on the senate floor were important. Time management, close study of bills impacting agriculture or his district were also included.
Work on passing the pseudo-rabies bill, legislation to help agricultural interests during the 1980s farm crisis, and the Iowa Beginning Family Farm Loan Program were cited by Soorholtz as legislation he was proud to sponsor.
“John is a gentleman,” said now retired UAW official Dennis Walker in 2006. “You could not tell if he was a Democrat or a Republican. John is only one of three Republicans we have endorsed. The other two are Sheriff Ted Kamatchus and former state senator Jack Rife."
When Soorholtz last ran for supervisor, “Soorholtz for Supervisor” signs were prominently displayed with those of Democrats in front of Marshalltown UAW headquarters on Iowa Avenue West. As supervisor, Soorholtz cited the county jail on Highway 30, the Harvester development, redesign of the Haverhill corner, work on making Iowa 330/U.S. 65 four lane and the Gateway entrance to Consumers Energy as all significant accomplishments.