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Smith announces retirement from Iowa Legislature

Longtime state representative hosts Booker, reveals intentions

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Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker might have been the draw to the Saturday gathering at Anson Park, but it was Mark Smith who had the big announcement.

Smith, who has been a state representative for District 71 since 2001, told the crowd of roughly 125 people that he will retire from the legislature.

At the age of 67, Smith said there are still things he would like to do while he is still in relatively good health.

“My wife and I are avid bicyclists. We want to travel more and there are some things that need to be written,” he said. “I want to do other things.”

Smith hosted Booker at his annual barbecue in Marshalltown. The two met when Smith traveled to New Jersey – where Booker serves as a United States senator – and Smith asked Booker to help the Democrats take back the Iowa House of Representatives.

“He gave it,” Smith said.

Booker was surprised by Smith’s announcement. “I did not know,” he said. “Mark is deeply respected. I admire him. He is a true leader of the people.”

Before Smith told the crowd of his intention to retire, Booker spoke of his vision for the country if he is elected president.

“I want to make a case about how we are going to win this election,” he said.

Booker said everyone has the right to be heard and acknowledged. He wanted people to know “I see you. I love you.”

The election, Booker said, is about people seeing one another.

“It’s that veteran that has come home after standing on the front lines . . . and is now homeless because of mental illness. I see you. I love you,” he said. “It’s that teacher now in school that doesn’t know how to pay student debt but still reaches in their pocket to pay for things for the kids . . . I see you. I love you. We cannot be a nation that was built on ideals of patriotism without understanding that patriotism is love of country and you cannot love the country unless you love your fellow country men and women.”

Booker said if he is elected president he will ask more of the American people than any other recent president, because he wants people to come together. Booker ended his campaign speech with scripture from the book of Genesis – specifically chapter 37. In that chapter, Joseph’s brothers see him approaching in his colorful coat and they plot to throw him into a pit. They then ask what will become of Joseph’s dreams.

“What will become of our dream?” Booker asked the crowd. “Will it become diluted? Will it become diminished? Will we, a new generation of dreamers, stand up and say the dream will not die on my watch. I will dream courageous dream. I will dream defiant dreams and I will back those dreams up with work, sacrifice and struggle. I will back them up with love.”